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Fast food winners

Filling an order for a burger and fries isn't rocket science. Fast food's relatively simple model helps propel it to the second best customer experience among 20 industries in a new survey from the Temkin Group.

"Fast food does really well," said Bruce Temkin, managing partner and founder of the market research group. "They're second overall compared to supermarket chains."

"The expectations for fast food chains are pretty basic compared to interactions at health plans and utilities," he said.

The survey included results of 10,000 U.S. consumers and ranked 293 companies across 20 industries.

Fast food averaged a 76 percent rating, considerably higher than several industries that are stereotypically headache-inducing, such as TV and Internet service providers.

But there's cause for concern for fast food giants in the new rankings.

"I think overall you'd say the customer experience is high relatively to other industries, but it declined in past year and that's not a good sign," Temkin said.

Which fast food giants were the winners in the new rankings?

Click ahead to find out.

—By CNBC's Katie Little
Posted 18 March 2015

(Tied) 7. Taco Bell

Yum Brands' Mexican chain tied with its fellow Yum unit Pizza Hut in the rankings. Customer experience is based on three things: success (to what degree customers are able to do what they want), effort (how difficult it was to do that) and emotion (how they felt about the interaction).

(Tied) 7. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Popeyes
Souce: Popeyes | Facebook

Selling fried chicken infused with a Cajun touch, Popeyes landed in a four-way tie for seventh place. During the past year, Popeye's stock has risen sharply, as have many restaurant stocks.

(Tied) 7. Pizza Hut

Photo: Pizza Hut

The pizza giant dropped a place in the rankings this year. It's important to note that many chains are tightly clustered. Indeed, the top 10 are all within 4 percentage points of each other. Fast food is one of the most highly concentrated ranges, compared to segments like airlines and utilities that showed larger variation in consumer experience ratings.

(Tied) 7. Dunkin' Donuts

Getty Images

The coffee and doughnut chain was one of just a couple chains that improved their customers' experience. Dunkin' posted the biggest jump of the top 10.

(Tied) 3. Sonic

Sonic might have tumbled a couple percentage points this year, but its stock has seen a banner year, rising 46 percent in 12 months. It also just wrapped up a blockbuster fiscal-second quarter with same-store sales growth of 11.5 percent.

(Tied) 3. Subway

Subway held steady from the prior year at an 80 percent experience rating. Competitor Panera Bread tied with the company.

(Tied) 3. Panera Bread

High consumer experience scores and stock increases don't necessarily go hand in hand. Panera stock has dropped 13 percent in the last year.

(Tied) 3. Dairy Queen

Berkshire Hathaway-owned Dairy Queen dropped 1 point in the rankings this year.

2. Papa John's

Papa John's earned the highest pizza chain ranking on the list and joined Pizza Hut as one of two to make the top 10. Competitors Little Caesar's and Domino's followed as a respective 15th and 16th in fast food.

1. Chick-fil-A

Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich.
J.Reed | Flickr Commons

"Chick-fil-A has had a reasonably narrow footprint … so it hasn't over expanded to the point where it lost touch with customers," Temkin said.

The chain consistently performs well in the survey, landing at the top spot for the fourth year in a row.

Overall, the chain came in fourth among the 293 companies ranked this year.