Customer Loyalty with Restaurants Markedly Higher with Takeout or Delivery, Compared to Dining-In

Study also suggests increased local demand for staycations in the next 12 months despite safety and cost concerns

Singapore, 2 December 2020 (Wednesday) – The Institute of Service Excellence (ISE) (卓越服务研究院)at Singapore Management University (SMU) today released the 2020 third quarter (Q3) Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG) results for the Food & Beverage and Tourism sectors.

In the latest results, the Food & Beverage sector scored 73.6 points on a 0 to 100 scale. This comprised of brands and companies from the Restaurants, Fast Food, and Café & Coffee Houses sub-sectors. The Tourism sector scored 76.1 points, which was derived from survey responses for tourist attractions; because of the Covid-19 travel restrictions, only local visitors were interviewed.

With the Covid-19 pandemic and safety measures in place, the study’s researchers looked at customer sentiments amid changes to consumption behaviour.

Food & Beverage

In the Restaurants sub-sector, it was observed that customer loyalty levels differed based on whether the customer dined-in, did a take-out, or had the food delivered. Loyalty was defined as the customers’ likelihood to patronise the establishment again as well as their tolerance to changes in prices; a Customer Loyalty score was derived based on responses to these two variables.

Restaurant customers who dined-in had an average Loyalty score of 68.9 points while those who either ordered take-away or food delivery scored 73.1 and 73.8 points, respectively. While not as pronounced, similar observations were seen in the Fast Food and Cafes & Coffee Houses sub-sectors.

Additionally, the study also revealed a change in dining behaviour, with 62% of restaurant customers indicating they were either ordering more takeout or food delivery due to the Covid-19 situation.

Mr Chen Yongchang (陈勇畅), Head of Research and Consulting at ISE, commented, “The findings bode well for food operators who had expanded their operating models to include takeout and deliveries. This is especially critical for operators who have traditionally targeted the office and tourist crowd, where demand has reduced significantly.”

Analysing customers’ experience with the three F&B sub-sectors, i.e., Restaurants, Fast Food, and Café & Coffee Houses, performance attributes relating to the stores’ visual appeal and ambience, as well as service staff responsiveness, performed below-average.

“While Covid-19 measures have undoubtedly been a key contributor to some operational challenges, be it poorer store layout or staffing issues, these attributes do matter to customer loyalty. The industry should consider using this opportunity to innovate and design new dine-in experiences for this new normal,” he remarked.

Another observation within the F&B sector was the prevalence and usage of deals platforms, such as HungryDeals, Burrple Beyond, and The Entertainer. Segmenting respondents by those who used these platforms and those who did not, analysis revealed the former segment had substantially higher levels of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and perceptions of value.

Commenting further, Mr Chen pointed out, “F&B operators should consider leveraging such platforms to not just gain new customers but also improve customer stickiness.”


Within the Tourism sector, the study looked at local visitor data from the Attractions sub-sector. Due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions, tourist responses were not captured. For the same reason, the study did not survey the Hotels sub-sector this year.

Analysis for the Attractions sub-sector focused on determining what would drive local visitors to make a repeat visit to an attraction they had recently visited. In descending order of importance, the data suggested businesses can most effectively drive Customer Loyalty through visitors’ satisfaction with ‘Food and beverage options’, the ‘Range of activities and exhibits’, ‘Entertainment or educational value of the attraction’, ‘Friendliness and courtesy of the staff', and ‘Ease of getting to the attraction’.

Ms Neeta Lachmandas (妮塔.拉切曼达斯), Executive Director (执行总监) of ISE, said “With the SingapoRediscovers voucher programme poised to provide a boost to the local tourism scene, businesses that are able to leverage these aspects of their service proposition will be most successful in taking advantage of this opportunity.”

However, she cautioned, “Attraction operators have their work cut out for them as four out of five of these attributes performed relatively poorly when compared to the other attributes the study had measured.”

The study also looked at demand for local staycations over the next 12 months. Compared to 2019, 63% indicated they would maintain or increase the frequency of staycations and 71% indicated they would spend the same or more. This is in contrast to 37% of respondents that indicated they would decrease or not partake in staycations and 29% that indicated they would decrease or not spend anything at all on staycations. 

Nonetheless, local consumers had also highlighted concerns about aspects of the staycation experience. In particular, 27.1% were concerned about the efficacy of disinfecting the hotel room, 25.8% were concerned with the cost of the stay, and 16.2% were concerned about hotels being used as quarantine facilities.

Ms Lachmandas said, “Overall, local consumer sentiments for staycations bode well for our hospitality sector in the near term. But hoteliers must be cognisant of their concerns with the perceived safety and cleanliness of the accommodation, and the prices charged.

“By addressing safety concerns through education and providing flexible booking policies, and delivering value over discounts, we believe accommodation providers can effectively tap on local demand and make the best of a tough situation,” she concluded.

The CSISG 2020 Q3 study was conducted between July and September 2020. A total of 2,500 local consumers were surveyed for the Food & Beverage and Tourism sectors.

Please refer to Annex A for a background on the CSISG and Annex B for the detailed scores.