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Pathlight Executive Interview

Alexander Kvamme, CEO, Pathlight

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Pathlight Helps Businesses Set Real-World Goals to Enable
Frontline Personnel to Perform at Optimal Levels


Pathlight offers an innovative approach to the performance management marketplace. It provides a comprehensive platform that employs AI to objectively measure team and individual performance metrics. The solution combines this real-time analysis with coaching communication tools to empower agents to know how exactly how well they are doing and focus on results.

CrmXchange managing partner Sheri Greenhaus conducted an in-depth conversation with Alexander Kvamme, CEO, Pathlight as they prepared to exhibit at CCW in Las Vegas.

Please tell us about Pathlight.

We built Pathlight to help every single person be their professional best.  We turn managers into coaches and allow them to spend time managing people and not spreadsheets. 

Pathlight is a performance intelligence platform for customer-facing teams. We consolidate performance data, coaching, QA, and communication in one place and the platform empowers data-driven management with transparency at every layer of the organization. 

Pathlight helps employees answer a simple question – 'How am I doing at work and how can I improve?'—without spending hours sifting through dashboards and spreadsheets. Pathlight serves as an employee’s command center, giving them everything they need—from data to coaching—to manage themselves and hit their goals, and gives executives and managers instant insights into how their teams are performing.

How does Pathlight help CX departments set performance goals? 

Setting goals for hundreds or thousands of frontline employees is an incredibly complex manual and often arbitrary process that organizations must continuously repeat. Until now, it's been nearly impossible to set and manage custom, intelligent goals at scale. Everyone needs to be on the same page: the hundreds of managers, supervisors, etc. who report into the infrastructure, all need to interpret and analyze the massive amounts of data to understand how employees are doing. 

Organizational design and the way we manage hasn’t changed much over the past 25 years, but the number of software systems, amount of data, and consequently the number of open tabs in agents’ browsers has spiraled. Pathlight is a new solution that simplifies the intelligence and reduces the issue of increasing data complexity. 

Organizations need their agents to understand how they are doing at work. It should be as easy as waking up and checking the weather. That doesn’t happen right now; as agents don’t have access to these systems. They have to log in and wait for their managers to interpret dashboards.  That’s the first step of Pathlight. Pathlight’s vision is to empower everybody to be their professional best by helping them understand and manage their own performance. At its core, it is a performance intelligence platform; one that is specifically built for managing large groups of data-driven, customer-facing teams.

What is the ideal agent size for Pathlight?

The group size is variable. We have customers with as few as 30 agents, or scaling to thousands of agents. The problems gets more painful with larger numbers of people - more people, bigger problems. It starts getting interesting in environments with 50 or more front-line agents.  It gets even more complicated with over 100 agents. If an organization has 1000 agents, optimizing performance, aligning teams, and having agility is extremely difficult. 

Without Pathlight, how would managers typically evaluate the agents?

Without Pathlight, managers would be making evaluations in their heads and on spreadsheets which can be both inconsistent and time-consuming. They would be accessing programs like Zendesk, NICE CXone or Maestro QA. They would have to access up to five systems, download reports and put them into a spreadsheet. They might know what their goals are, but their goals are not available anywhere in these multiple systems. Information can be plugged in and at some point the manager can conclude that one employee is doing a great job but another needs help. This might then lead to coaching. 

By contrast, Pathlight does both of those things--the data side and the coaching side.  Managers who are using Pathlight realize it is saving them hours per day. They can manage more people as well as the team more effectively. Not only are managers on top of things, they know that their frontline employees can manage themselves because they have access to the same level of data. Prior to Pathlight, every manager was doing their job differently. This is a major issue for a leader who has many managers, each with their own interpretation of how to evaluate employees. That is why it is often so difficult to move the organization forward; to be agile and respond to major shifts like a pandemic that precipitates a move to hybrid work. They have to operate in what is a fragmented organization.

Does Pathlight integrate with the Quality and Coaching tools?

Integrations are the name of the game. We are the single pane of glass to measure performance for our customers. We integrate with the ticketing system, the phone system, the chat system, and the QA system providing the company one place to go to see how its people are performing.  Pathlight then provides a coaching and communication platform. 

We recently released our own quality tool. Our customers wanted QA in Pathlight because it’s their one-stop shop for performance measurements and coaching. They asked us to make it more effective by creating a purpose-built QA tool. 

What is your strategy moving forward?

Our strategy moving forward is to expand upon the solution being all part of the same job. The goal is to give managers everything they need to make their people more successful. Take QA for example, we released this in October this year and we’re now at the point where we’re just about up to feature parity with the major providers: side by side, auto-coaching, appeals and reconciliation, training, and sampling. The level of engagement is really high because we focused on empowering the managers to do more QA and we incorporated trainers in the platform. One of our goals is to make QA easy for the managers and perhaps even peers. We give senior agents the opportunity to do peer-to-peer coaching.

Who uses Pathlight?

The people using the Pathlight platform are managers, directors, VPs and the front-line agents themselves. Operations training is also involved in the platform as well, mainly from an administrative perspective but also for maintaining it. We focus on targeting the needs of line-of-business people who are in the trenches every day.  It is the agent-manager-supervisor-leader-director hierarchy. In some businesses, the entire org chart is in Pathlight every day.

Does Pathlight look at what the agents are doing in the aggregate as well as the giving each agent the ability to compare how they are doing in relation to the group?

We can accommodate several different types of models. Our Auto-Goals platform enables companies to evaluate agents based on their specific standards. Sometimes these are very concrete, such as maintaining a CSAT above 4.8 except for agents who have only recently joined the company or a different number if they are in an offshore location. Pathlight is built to accommodate complex goals. There are many companies who have metrics that the frontline people are unclear about or they have undefined goals. Sometimes the goals are fluid and change over time. It often comes back to the manager trying to do it manually and with spreadsheets. Pathlight helps them understand the bounds of what good looks like for any specific metric, so they don’t have to pick an arbitrary number like 4.8 which is unnecessarily brittle. We leverage AI to look at the historical data and set intelligent goals. Like most elements of Pathlight, we’re just productizing the things great managers have been doing for a long time-- setting dynamic goals that are more tailored to the individual.

Is Pathlight an ‘aid’ to the manager?

The first thing managers see when they log into Pathlight is what we refer to as the natural language summary, a couple of sentences meant to summarize everything. “Your team is doing great this week, but you should probably talk with one person about QA whose specific numbers have been dipping.” Our goal with providing that one sentence analysis is to save the manager 30 minutes right off the bat. Now the manager is able to focus on coaching and helping the individual who might be lagging. That’s the human side of the equation which is where informed managers can excel. 

We give our customers access to the whole world of information across their people which is what enables us to provide realistic and accurate goals. Sometimes we work with the customer to adjust goals that were set too high and left everyone falling short. It’s not helpful to set up a situation where everyone is failing. It becomes difficult for people to determine what good performance is when no one is reaching the goal. By looking at such areas as the percent of goals reached, we are able to help them transform an unproductive standard by understanding the aggregate and lifting the performance of individual team members. This can be done for one team, a region, or the entire functional group.

Would Pathlight take some of the subjectivity out of scoring?

Humans can have bias. That’s normal. But what we have seen is because we are creating an objective environment, people who might have been passed over are getting promoted. It overcomes unfortunate scenarios where people might be perceived on personal traits as opposed to actual performance. Because data doesn’t lie and if Pathlight identifies someone as a top performer, that is how they are evaluated. What really makes a difference is when someone who might not ordinarily have been promoted becomes a manager. These managers lean even more on Pathlight because they understand that it provides an objective standard to successfully lead their teams.

Is there a difference in agent attrition with Pathlight?

We’re seeing anecdotal evidence that the teams with higher Pathlight engagement are seeing higher retention. Some potential customers have expressed fears that Pathlight might cause an explosion of critical coaching and negative conversations. We’re seeing the opposite - a major uptick in positive collaboration and reinforcement. In many contact center environments it’s hard for people who manage 12 people. They have to spend it fighting fires. By making this process more efficient and streamlining managerial tasks, managers now have time to just make one click in Pathlight to celebrate individual performance to the entire team. We are also able to track 1:1s and measure the percentage of negative and positive coaching that managers and supervisors are doing so that directors can ascertain whether there is healthy mix happening. Customers have reported an increase in positive reinforcement since deploying Pathlight.

Are goals becoming more realistic with Pathlight?

As businesses use Pathlight over time, goals can be automatically generated. We’re hoping to correct the errors of setting goals too high at the leadership level. The stakes are high - setting standards that not only determine whether a person is worthy of consideration for promotion or rewards, but whether they will even keep their job. It also impacts whether the company itself will be successful over time. In too many contact centers, it is a chaotic endeavor with individual managers doing things their own way. There are pockets of unfairness and inconsistency in goal setting that can make for a complete morass. We’ve heard that in some companies, managers can be as much as a quarter behind on goal setting, sometimes giving agents monthly goals in the middle of the month. That is just not acceptable and Pathlight can change it.

We realize that we are a new category, and some businesses are just waking up to the fact that a comprehensive solution like this exists. We do see that companies who are actively involved with information resources like CrmXchange and events like CCW are further along in the digital transformation journey.

How do you make the case for developing an ROI for Pathlight?

It’s pretty simple. It’s not just happier employees, which is important, but more successful employees, which has a measurable impact on the bottom line. That is why we are growing so fast. Most companies have 10% top performers, 60% middle, and 30% bottom. The top performers won’t change, but if we can affect even a 5% positive change in the middle and the bottom levels that can translate into significant overall improvements in CSAT at scale. 

We believe in the power of technology to unlock productivity and empower everyone…especially frontline workers who are the face of your brand and working through often time complex matters to leverage their humanity and become as productive and successful as possible. What’s most important is to help them feel like they are in better control of their careers.