Starbucks Corporation (SBUX), Dunkin Brands Group Inc (DNKN): Which Coffee Chain Gets Top Marks in Customer Satisfaction?

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Gone are the days when you could walk into a diner, get your $0.50 cup of "coffee," and calmly read the paper while some waitress asked, "Anything else?" every 10 minutes. In today's coffee marketplace, $5 coffee comes and goes like the sun on a cloudy day, and we demand quick service to get us running out the door. This month's customer satisfaction scores from the American Customer Satisfaction Index included limited-service restaurants Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN)'s Dunkin Donuts, and McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) -- no one came out looking like the clear winner.

Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX)

The top two spots In the whole limited-service division, Subway comes in at the top spot with a score of 83. The overall average for the sector was 80, and both Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) and Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) hit that average. Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) won out in cost -- which was no real surprise -- while Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) won the quality fight. The move to 80 was good news for Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), which had fallen behind in 2012, when it dropped down to 76 -- four points below the sector average.

Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) had a smaller move, rising one point over last year's position. In 2012, price seems to have trumped quality, and in its first year of ranking, Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) had the edge on Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX). Now Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) has taken its cost issues to heart, and apparently made a move to improve the perception of its quality to make up for that extra cost. Regardless of which brand you pull for, both are better off than...

McDonald's comes in dead last The burger clown didn't beat out any of its main competitors and fell in overall last place of named companies this year. In fact, looking back at rankings since 1994, no one has ever been ranked lower than McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD).

In terms of future growth, that's a bad place to be. As the company's brand continues to erode, it's going to lose market share to competitors like Dunkin Brands Group Inc (NASDAQ:DNKN) and Starbucks -- not to mention Burger King Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:BKC) and The Wendy's Co (NASDAQ:WEN). That said, however, McDonald's also did better than it's ever done, scoring a 73 this year. As the report points out, "A decade ago, McDonald's was stuck in the low 60s."

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