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This Is the Best Fast-Food Chain of 2021, According to Customers

A recent study reveals that this popular fast-food chain is the most reliable one of them all.

Americans tend to have very strong opinions about their favorite fast-food chains. Which has the best fries, the best milkshake, or the best spicy chicken sandwich? The answer, of course, depends on who you ask. And while fast-food restaurants don't have a reputation for being the most nutritious, they are often the solution when you need something that's quick, easy, affordable, and tasty on a busy day. The best fast-food restaurants know how to keep their customers coming back for more, and it's usually a combination of great customer service, reasonable prices, and delicious food. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index's (ACSI) Restaurant Study 2020-2021, there is one fast-food chain that customers seem to agree is the best of them all.

To conduct its new survey, the ACSI randomly emailed 19,423 customers between April 2020 to March 2o21 and asked them to discuss their experiences at some of the largest restaurants in the country, including major fast-food chains. The participants assessed 22 different chains based on 10 different categories: accuracy of food order, food quality, beverage quality, variety of food, variety of beverages, layout and cleanliness, courtesy and helpfulness of waitstaff, the speed with which food was received, website satisfaction, and the reliability of the restaurant's mobile app. The researchers used their answers to give each fast-food chain an overall customer satisfaction score out of 100. At Best Life, we looked at all the chains that received an average score (78) or higher to determine which one is the best of them all. To see which fast-food chain customers are raving about the most at the moment, read on!

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut restaurant exterior
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

ACSI customer satisfaction score (out of 100): 78

While Pizza Hut's score is considered average among those rated on the 2021 ACSI survey, the chain's customer satisfaction rating did go up by one point this year. On the review site ConsumerAffairs, Pizza Hut has a 3.7 out of 5-star overall customer rating and the chain is receiving a lot of praise. Multiple customers have noted that this pizza spot has some very delicious offerings.

"The ingredients used are always fresh," wrote one happy customer of a Pizza Hut in Michigan. "The dough is hand-tossed. The pizza is never over or underdone. In fact, it melts in my mouth. The portion size is very generous."

RELATED: Wendy's Is Permanently Getting Rid of This Menu Item.

Panera Bread

the exterior of a Panera Brea restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana
Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

ACSI customer satisfaction score (out of 100): 78

Panera's score went down by one point this year, compared to the ACSI 2020 survey. However, customers overall still seem pretty pleased with the bakery-café, especially amid the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presented.

"They go from point A to point Z in customer service especially at these sensitive times," a customer wrote on the review site Trustpilot about a Panera in New Jersey. "The manager provides fast problem-solving tactics to make sure the customers are served as fast as possible but with care. A big thank you!!!!"

Five Guys

five guys restaurant
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

ACSI customer satisfaction score (out of 100): 78

Five Guys wasn't evaluated on ACSI's 2020 survey, but it's clear the burger joint knows how to make a good impression. Customers on Trustpilot have commended Five Guys for how they go above and beyond for their diners. "The manager today helped us out with my son," one wrote about a Five Guys in Florida. "My son can't eat sesame seeds and he was kind enough to create a grilled cheese sandwich out of hot dog buns. That's thinking outside the box."

Another customer at a Five Guys in Minnesota also applauded the restaurant's efficiency when tackling a big takeout order. "This place always gets the orders right," they wrote. "The food was wrapped up really good so it was still warm when we got home. The fries are the absolute best."

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starbucks logo outside a store
JohnFScott / iStock

ACSI customer satisfaction score (out of 100): 79

Starbucks' ACSI score went up by one point this year, and on ConsumerAffairs, this beloved coffee chain has many fans and a 3.7 out of 5-star overall customer rating.

Many customers on the review site keep coming back to Starbucks for its delicious and Instagram-able drinks. "After I got my Caramel Ribbon Crunch and S'mores Frappes, I was elated!" one customer said about a Starbucks in North Carolina. "The sweetness and crunch were so satisfying and not too sweet, not to mention they were beautifully made and topped with a mountain of cool whip. The balance of caramel and coffee doesn't always work out and is often too sweet, but I could not put it down."


the exterior of a KFC restaurant in Columbus, Ohio
Eric Glenn/Shutterstock

ACSI customer satisfaction score (out of 100): 79

KFC's customer satisfaction score was above average this year at 79, which is the same rating that it got on the ACSI's 2020 survey. The popular fried chicken chain has a good reputation on ConsumerAffairs, too, with another 3.7 overall customer rating. In many different aspects—including the quality of its food and its overall customer service—KFC doesn't disappoint, according to reviewers.

"What makes this KFC special and worthy of a review is the fast and courteous service, the superior quality of the food, and the accuracy of the orders," a customer wrote about a KFC in Florida. "I've been ordering food from this KFC for once a month over the past year and my orders have been 100 percent accurate. There are not many drive-thrus with a record like that. In addition, the food is always hot and fresh and I've never once felt like my food has been sitting around."'

RELATED: McDonald's Is Making This Permanent Change to All of Its Happy Meals.


The front of a Domino's restaurant and franchise sign in Berkeley, California

ACSI customer satisfaction score (out of 100): 80

Domino's not only went up by one point in this year's ACSI survey, but it also received the second-highest score among all fast-food chains. It does have a slightly lower ranking on ConsumerAffairs than Starbucks and KFC with 3.2 stars, but overall, customers have said that the pizza chain's food is enjoyable and the staff is reliable.

"The food is fresh and on point … really good," a customer wrote about a Domino's in California, noting they got "great and friendly professional service." "The way you treat others is what they remember in any business… Presentation is everything."

A customer at a Domino's in North Carolina also noted that the chain has amazing customer and delivery service. "I have tried all of the pizza delivery services, and Domino's was by far the best. They made our orders super quickly and delivered them even quicker hot and ready. I will definitely be ordering from this Domino's in the future."

RELATED: This Is the Least Trusted Restaurant Chain in the U.S., According to Data.


Chick-Fil-A sign on the side of the restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin
Keith Homan/Shutterstock

ACSI customer satisfaction score (out of 100): 83

Despite the fact that its ranking went down by one point this year, Chick-fil-A was voted the highest-rated fast-food chain on the 2021 ACSI survey, with a score of 83. Customers on ConsumerAffairs appear to agree, as the chicken sandwich chain has a 3.9 out of 5-star overall customer rating.

"I just had the best salad here," one customer wrote about a Chick-fil-A in Arizona. "I've loved their sandwiches but now another thing to love. Never lack customer service either! I stood up to go get another dressing and had three employees asking if I needed anything, they employ extra people always… They meet all my expectations. Love them."

A customer in Utah emphasized how attentive Chick-fil-A's workers are and organized they seem to be. "Wow! 25 cars deep in the drive thru and we got our food in less than 7 minutes. Who does that? Chick-fil-A of course! They know how to do it. McDonald's, KFC, Arby's, whoever, pay close attention," the Chick-fil-A fan said. "If only you were open on Sundays, my life would be complete! Keep up the awesome service and food quality. You rock!"

RELATED: This Is the Worst Fast Food Chain in the U.S., According to Customers.

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