Fresh beef may not be enough to keep McDonald's diners from spending their money elsewhere

Key Points
  • McDonald's lags behind its competitors when it comes to customer service experience, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
  • The chain has invested heavily in improving its customer experience.
A Quarter Pounder hamburger is served at a McDonald's restaurant on March 30, 2017 in Effingham, Illinois. McDonald's announced today that it will start making the burger with fresh beef patties instead of the frozen beef that it currently uses.
Getty Images

Wall Street may be cheering McDonald's technology and menu upgrades, but the burger giant's core customers are balking.

The Golden Arches have been working hard to win back business it lost to rivals by improving the dining experience at its restaurants. So far, it's added digital ordering kiosks, table service, and customizable burgers and it is swapping out frozen patties for fresh beef.

While shares of the company hit an all-time high on Tuesday, buoyed by increased confidence from investors, some customers have found the new strategy to be inconvenient and are threatening to spend their dollars elsewhere.

In particular, diners have taken umbrage with how long it now takes for their Quarter Pounders to cook, especially when purchasing food at the drive-thru, according to a recent Reuters report.

The Golden Arches already lags behind its competitors when it comes to customer satisfaction. So, it can't afford to alienate any more, let alone those that frequent the chain's drive-thru. Drive-thru patrons account for about 70 percent of McDonald's U.S. revenue.

According to a report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, McDonald's has the lowest customer satisfaction rating among other fast food chains. The survey was based on more than 5,500 interviews with restaurant customers conducted between June 2016 and May 2017 and provided restaurants with scores out of 100.

McDonald's earned a 69. In comparison, Burger King received a score of 77 and Wendy's got a 76.

Representatives from ACSI did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

This metric could continue to decline for McDonald's if it is unable to quell customer concerns. Although, the increased time it takes to cook a Quarter-Pounder could be offset by other initiatives that McDonald's has been rolling out.

"Digital innovations, such as and mobile ordering and curbside will ease volume at our drive-thru and provide customers with more options and conveniences when visiting McDonald's," the company told CNBC.

The chain has invested heavily in delivery and expects its partnership with UberEats to reach more than 3,500 restaurants by the end of June. And for those that decide to dine-in, McDonald's is adding table-service to its renovated restaurants.

McDonald's employees will now spend more time in the front of the restaurant, delivering food directly to the tables and offering traditional dining hospitality.

Jeremy Scott, an analyst with Mizuho, has said that McDonald's has had "longstanding service deficiencies" but its turnaround plan is "bold."

In a recent research note, Scott said he expects that there could be some hardship early on for the burger giant as it transitions into its new strategy, but that longterm, McDonald's has the tools to amp up its service quality.