Executive Commentary
The New Economy Isn’t So New
Lorna Donatone
Lorna Donatone
CEO, Sodexo Schools Worldwide President, Sodexo North America

This week, I used an iPhone app to summon a car. The driver arrived a few minutes later and greeted me by name. He delivered a friendly, comfortable ride to my destination.

Because I’m in the services industry, I couldn’t help but deconstruct a customer experience that was so much better than it used to be. Basically, it comes down to three characteristics:

1.    Technology

2.    Entrepreneurial Imagination

3.    Personal Service

The Ubers, Lyfts and Airbnbs combine tech with human imagination and the fundamentals of personal service. Each has, in fact, prioritized customer service through rating systems. A driver or host will get much more business if they are courteous and offer bottled water or extra towels.

Maybe the New Economy isn’t so much about disruptors as it is about new ways of delivering terrific customer service.

Take Eat Club, a quintessential New Economy start-up born on the West coast and expanding across the country. It works with companies to offer free, personalized lunches to employees.

My company is helping the expansion and some in the industry might wonder why.

Maybe the New Economy isn’t so much about disruptors as it is about new ways of delivering terrific customer service.

If you look at Eat Club as a tech-based disruptor in the culinary services world (where my company resides), it’s a natural question. It looks like a competitor.

If you see Eat Club as an app-based concierge service that helps companies improve the quality of the workday for their employees, it’s looking closer to my company’s model. The connection is clear when you add that the app gives real people information to create and deliver meals.

Not only is this business prodigy not a competitor, it actually helps expand our service model by partnering with smaller companies than our corporate services business usually does.

The fact is, our partnership is a great example of how the lines between the Traditional Economy and New Economy are blurring. More and more businesses are adding technology to communicate and deliver services, but they are still delivering service.

The tools may initially make a splash, but they don’t set a business apart in the long run. It’s how employees use the tools to serve the customer that was, is and will always be the differentiator.

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