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Essential Restaurant KPIs to Measure Customer Experience Success

Essential Restaurant KPIs to Measure Customer Experience Success

In the dynamic, competitive restaurant industry, every customer interaction counts. Whether through efficient drive-thru lanes, user-friendly self-service kiosks, or intuitive mobile apps, each touchpoint shapes the guest experience, influencing satisfaction and loyalty.

A recent study highlighted the importance of even the smallest details, like ensuring clear signage at pickup locations, in enhancing customer experience. Customers reported a 64% satisfaction rate when signage was clear, compared to only 52% when it was lacking. 

In a landscape where business needs and guest expectations are ever-evolving, how can restaurant leaders consistently deliver exceptional experiences? This is where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come into play.

Understanding KPIs In The Restaurant Industry

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable metrics that evaluate performance toward strategic goals and objectives over a given period. In the restaurant industry, customer experience KPIs offer actionable insights into key touchpoints shaping guest experiences, ultimately guiding strategic decision-making and operational improvements. 

Consider the speed of service as an example. Findings from the 2023 Annual Drive-Thru Study show that decreasing drive-thru wait times by 5 seconds can lead to financial gains of potentially over $8,000 per location annually.

Analyzing restaurant KPIs like this can lead to data-driven decisions in drive-thru ordering, including initiatives like staff training, streamlining kitchen operations, or even upgrading drive-thru speaker systems for better communication.

Another important aspect is that each restaurant metric is a gateway to in-depth analysis. For example, data on food quality could cover temperature, ingredient quality, taste, presentation, portion size, and freshness. By collecting this data, brands gain insights into the factors influencing customer satisfaction and strategies for improvement.

Customer Experience KPIs For Restaurants

In quick-service restaurants, discussions about customer experience frequently emphasize restaurant metrics such as speed, accuracy, and friendly service. Yet, the reality within the QSR industry doesn't always meet these high standards.

In a recent study, over 60% of restaurant leaders say order accuracy is mediocre or weak within their shops, highlighting a critical area for enhancements. Operations training and employee accuracy are the largest factors contributing to this statement. (The study encompassed 179 enterprise Fast Casual and QSR brands across 62,000 U.S. locations.)

For many restaurant leaders and franchisors, the challenge lies in narrowing the gap between operational excellence and customer experience. The question is: how can brands enhance operations to ensure consistent experiences across all locations?

Three critical areas present opportunities for improving operational efficiency and the overall guest experience: service quality, customer satisfaction, and food quality.

Service Quality

When thinking about running a successful restaurant, service quality inevitably takes center stage. Here are some essential restaurant KPIs to consider:

  • Wait Time: This restaurant KPI tracks how long takes from when someone enters the line until they place an order. Minimizing customer wait times is crucial for QSRs. Quick and efficient service ensures customers can grab a meal on the go, enhancing their overall experience. Streamlining kitchen layout and checkout processes are examples of how brands can significantly reduce bottlenecks.
  • Service Time/ Speed of Service: Speedy service is fundamental for QSRs and fast-casual restaurants. By monitoring this restaurant KPI, which tracks the time customers wait to receive their orders after placing them, businesses can fine-tune their operational efficiency.

Front-of-house operations can significantly impact service time, making staff training a critical component for achieving quick service. Optimizing cashier workflows and POS systems for faster order processing can reduce service time and improve this important KPI.

  • Total Time for Drive-Thru: Streamlining the drive-thru experience is essential for QSRs with drive-thru facilities. Monitoring customers' total time in the drive-thru, from arrival to order completion, helps identify opportunities and improve overall efficiency. 

Optimizing drive-thru layout and investing in technology such as digital menu boards and predictive ordering algorithms help anticipate customer orders and reduce decision time in line.

Data shows that over 20 percent of restaurant customers become annoyed after waiting two minutes to order at the drive-thru window. If the wait is five minutes, that increases to up to 70 percent of customers.

  • Order Accuracy: High order accuracy rates indicate smooth operations. In addition, improving order accuracy rates can help with inventory management and food waste, leading to lower operational costs. 

Furthermore, implementing rigorous quality control measures and investing in technology such as kitchen display systems can increase order accuracy rates. Training staff and encouraging open communication with customers to clarify special requests can also improve this KPI.

  • Table Turnover Rate: While QSRs primarily focus on takeout and fast service, fast-casual restaurants may offer limited seating. Maximizing table turnover ensures more customers can be served, maximizing revenue potential during peak hours. Offering incentives for quick turnover during busy hours or discounts for early diners can help restaurant leaders optimize this KPI.
  • Suggestive selling: Thoughtful suggestive selling techniques can enhance the customer experience while driving incremental revenue. By training staff to make relevant recommendations, restaurants can guide customers towards new menu items and limited-time offers, increasing overall satisfaction and average check size contributing to sales KPIs.

Customer Satisfaction

The more satisfied customers are, the more likely they will return, share their positive experiences, and become long-term, loyal customers. According to a Deloitte survey, the top three elements that created a memorable experience were friendly and authentic service (34%), real-time information (22%), and listening to customer needs (20%).

Here are essential restaurant KPIs linked to customer satisfaction:

  • OSAT (Overall Satisfaction): Gauging overall customer satisfaction provides valuable insights into service effectiveness and operations, including food quality, service efficiency, and speed. High OSAT scores indicate that the restaurant meets customer expectations and delivers a satisfying experience.
  • Customer Feedback Scores: Capturing customer input through in-person interactions or online surveys offers valuable insights into areas for improvement. By analyzing feedback, restaurant leaders can proactively enhance operations and ensure every guest receives the brand experience just as intended. 
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS measures customers' likelihood to recommend the restaurant to others, making it a powerful indicator of customer loyalty and satisfaction. Promoters, those who rate their experience highly, are likely to return and advocate for the restaurant to friends and family. By focusing on improving NPS, restaurants can cultivate a loyal customer base and drive organic growth through word-of-mouth.
  • Customer Retention Rates: Regular customers are a strong indicator of customer loyalty and an essential part of continued success.  A Harvard Business School study found that increasing customer retention by 5% increases profits between 25% and 95%. Customer retention rates vary greatly based on the type of restaurant, size, location, and other factors, so the objective should be to establish a baseline for operations and consistently improve it.
  • Online Reviews and Ratings: With 94% of US diners being influenced by online reviews, this factor significantly influences consumers' and businesses’ decisions. Monitoring online review platforms such as Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor allow restaurants to gauge customer sentiment and address any negative feedback promptly. Positive feedback and reviews also serve as valuable endorsements.
  • Friendliness: Nearly 70% of U.S. consumers say they would switch from one brand to another due to unfriendly service, so maintaining a warm, welcoming atmosphere is essential. Staff friendliness and attentiveness contribute to a positive customer experience, encouraging repeat visits and brand loyalty. 
  • Cleanliness: A clean environment is fundamental to customer satisfaction and food safety. Implementing rigorous cleaning protocols and conducting regular inspections ensure compliance with cleanliness standards and enhance the overall guest experience. 

Using digital checklists is a great way to ensure nothing is overlooked. Additionally, they allow for real-time updates and tracking of cleaning activities, enabling restaurant managers to monitor progress and address any issues promptly.


Naturally, when consumers choose where to eat, the food will be a crucial component. Here are essential restaurant KPIs to track:

  • Food Quality: The overall quality of food directly impacts the customer experience. Strategies such as sourcing high-quality ingredients, consistently auditing suppliers, and training kitchen staff are key.
  • Food Temperature: Proper temperature control throughout food preparation, storage, and service is essential for preserving quality and safety. Establishing protocols for monitoring food temperatures, training staff on food handling techniques, and implementing temperature monitoring devices are effective strategies for ensuring food safety and consistency.

In the 2023 Annual Drive-Thru Study, ‘food quality’ was rated 35% higher when food was received hot than when it was not.

A Note On Employee Engagement And Customer Experience

Employee Engagement Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as Employee Turnover Rate, Employee Retention Rate, and Employee Satisfaction (ESAT) are closely connected to Customer Experience (CX) KPIs in several ways:

  • High employee satisfaction often leads to high customer satisfaction. When employees are satisfied with their work environment, compensation, and overall experience, they are more likely to deliver better service to customers.
  • Satisfied employees are more engaged, which can translate into improved customer service. They are more likely to go the extra mile to ensure customers are happy and their needs are met. 
  • High employee turnover rates can lead to higher labor costs and have negative effects on customer experience. Frequent turnover means that customers may deal with inexperienced staff, leading to inconsistencies in service quality and customer dissatisfaction. According to a PWC study, 46% of consumers will abandon a brand if the employees are not knowledgeable.

Utilizing Technology To Measure CX KPIs For Restaurants

Brands can harness technology to elevate restaurant customer experience KPIs through various strategies:

Online Ordering and Delivery Platforms

Implementing user-friendly online ordering systems and delivery platforms allows customers to place orders at their convenience, enhancing order accuracy, speed, and overall customer satisfaction. 

According to the 5th Annual State of Digital Report, 77% of surveyed brands reported digital sales growth in 2023. This allows brands to improve profitability and gather valuable behavioral data to create a seamless experience across channels.

Online ordering and delivery platforms provide valuable data regarding order accuracy and delivery times. By tracking restaurant metrics such as order accuracy rates and average delivery times, restaurants can measure their performance in meeting customer expectations for timely and error-free delivery.

Analyzing this data allows for adjustments in operational processes to improve accuracy and reduce delivery times, ultimately enhancing the customer experience.

An intuitive, great-looking online menu plays a crucial role in customer experience. In fact, studies show that satisfaction with the ordering experience was 61% higher when consumers found it was easy to add an item to their cart.

POS Systems

Point-of-sale (POS) Systems not only facilitate checkout but capture essential transactional data such as order frequency, average order value, menu item profitability, and popular menu items.

Analyzing this data provides insights into customer preferences, enabling restaurants to tailor their offerings to meet specific demands. For example, identifying popular items allows for strategic menu placement or promotional campaigns to improve financial performance.

POS systems also track key metrics related to order speed, providing insights into operational efficiency. By monitoring these metrics, restaurants can identify areas for improvement in kitchen workflows or service processes to enhance service speed and reduce wait times.

Additionally, POS systems streamline the ordering process, minimizing errors and wait times. Leveraging other functionalities such as integration with loyalty programs and customer feedback mechanisms, such as surveys, further enhances the capabilities of these systems.

Customer Feedback Tools

Utilizing survey tools such as online surveys or feedback kiosks empowers restaurants to gather real-time insights into customer satisfaction levels. These tools enable brands to collect feedback on various aspects, including food quality, customer service, friendliness, and more. Additionally, integrating Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys allows restaurants to assess customer loyalty and the likelihood of recommending the establishment to others.

Tracking NPS over time offers valuable insights into overall customer sentiment and brand advocacy. Improvements in NPS scores lead to enhanced customer experience and increased loyalty, vital for long-term business success.

Customer Experience Platforms

Customer Experience (CX) Platforms are centralized hubs integrate data from various CX initiatives, including mystery shopping programs, surveys, operational audits, and digital checklists across all locations.

By consolidating data from all these tools into a single interface, brands gain a comprehensive view of customer experience, preferences, and behavior. This unified approach streamlines data analysis and reporting, enabling decision-makers to identify trends, patterns, and actionable insights more efficiently, leading to informed decision-making.

Furthermore, CX platforms facilitate performance benchmarking across locations. By comparing customer satisfaction scores, wait times, and order accuracy rates, restaurant leaders can identify top-performing locations, pinpoint areas for improvement, and implement best practices consistently across the organization.

The Road To Track CX Restaurant KPIs Successfully

CX Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) cannot be overstated in the restaurant industry. From service speed to food quality, these indicators provide invaluable insights into guest satisfaction, operational efficiency, and overall business success.

Understanding how each relates to overall Customer Experience (CX) is critical, no matter which KPIs you decide to measure. By leveraging technology and implementing strategies such as a centralized CX platform, restaurant leaders can elevate KPI measurement efforts, implement operational enhancements, cultivate loyalty, and drive continuous business growth.



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