How CLEAR Managers Went From Crunching Data to Coaching Their Teams Using Pathlight
Using Pathlight enables CLEAR managers and ambassadors to see how they’re performing in real-time, instead of relying on clunky spreadsheets and spending time in the office. With the mobile app and convenience of Pathlight, managers can stay on the floor, coaching ambassadors and improving the overall member experience. Internally, Pathlight provides visibility, communication channels, and opportunities for ambassadors to connect (and compete!) with each other, see and track their goals, and communicate with their managers.
In 2021, TSA officers screened 585.3 million travelers—an average of 1.6 million people per day. But for those passengers, waiting in lines to reach the TSA checkpoint and presenting ID can be a slow and stressful process. That’s where CLEAR comes in: CLEAR believes that you are you, so they create fast, frictionless, and predictable experiences at airports and stadiums across the country by using your face, fingers, and eyes to identify you (instead of an ID card or passport). To provide a better support for their 12MM and growing member base, run operations smoothly, get motivated, and acquire more members, the CLEAR team relies on Pathlight for performance management.
With over 44 member airports, 100 partners, and a recent expansion into new verticals including sports stadiums, CLEAR relies heavily on its Ambassador Customer Experience (CX) team of over 2,000 ambassadors to create a consistent and superior member experience. “Our ambassadors are the most important part of our company because they bring the CLEAR experience to life,” says Jimmy Hahn, CLEAR’s Senior Vice President of Central Operations and Innovation, who oversees the company’s growth and evolution, tools used, and operations.
“As you approach a CLEAR lane in an airport, you’ll see our ambassadors’ smiling faces—they help guide you through the CLEAR experience to prove that you are you,” explains Jimmy. “Because they are critical to the member experience, we’re constantly collecting feedback from our members on ambassador performance, including NPS, member feedback, new member enrollments, and upsells to family members.”
Automating the manual process
Although ambassadors are measured using various metrics and CLEAR is a data-driven company, getting the relevant information to ambassadors on time used to be a challenge. For a long time, GMs would receive performance data, export it to a spreadsheet, and then share with ambassadors during one-on-ones or morning huddles. They would also print out the reports and post them on the walls of the break rooms so ambassadors could check in to see how they were doing.
Such a manual process was extremely time-consuming for management teams. Because the reports came in hourly and had to be downloaded and printed each time, data wasn’t being delivered in as expeditious a fashion. What’s more, their way of sharing information incurred huge wasted costs and resources.
“We wasted so much paper printing the metrics throughout the day as numbers would change,” says Joshua, Jimenez, an Operations Manager at LaGuardia Airport. “It would take almost an hour to print out all of the spreadsheets and post them on the board—it was very tedious work.”
Juggling spreadsheets ultimately distracted managers from focusing on coaching ambassadors: “Instead of working alongside our ambassadors on making a difference for our members, managers were stuck back in our offices cranking out spreadsheets to share performance data with our teams,” explains Jimmy. The focus was on spreadsheets and sifting through data, not on the most important driver of business growth: helping ambassadors take care of CLEAR’s members.
“What is most effective and important for our business is for our leadership teams to be out on the floor with our ambassadors, coaching them on how to take care of our members,” Jimmy says. But using spreadsheets to track performance led managers to focus their energy in the wrong place—on gathering and understanding data—instead of on coaching ambassadors or contributing to great member experiences. Additionally, this created a delayed feedback loop for employees. Ambassadors weren’t getting feedback quickly, so they weren’t able to rapidly address areas of improvement. Ultimately, all of this impacted the member experience, but since CLEAR knows the power of technology to streamline a process, they set out to find a better way to manage their team’s performance.
Finding a performance management solution
When evaluating a solution to manage ambassador performance, the CLEAR team wanted five key capabilities:
- Real-time data and feedback to shorten the feedback loop and help ambassadors address performance in the moment.
- A tool to keep managers on the floor, so ambassadors could receive valuable coaching in real time.
- A way to drive friendly competition and camaraderie with leaderboards and communication across teams.
- Goal setting to encourage ownership of goals and accountability towards achieving them on a daily basis.
- Visibility into performance across locations, so that regional directors and other leadership members could see how individual stations and regions are performing.
Jimmy and his team underwent an exhaustive process of comparing solutions and when they found Pathlight, it met their needs and resonated with them. “We really connected with Pathlight's values and mission,” Jimmy says. “It was important that we work with a company that would match our obsession with the customer experience, which we found in Pathlight.” Pathlight would provide them with the realtime visibility they needed and empower managers to be more present.
Discovering the power of mobile and metrics
CLEAR is focused on frictionless processes for its members, and it takes the same approach to its own operations, including implementing new processes and tools. So the CLEAR team partnered with Pathlight to outline an implementation strategy to optimize for the ambassador experience and rolled out their pilot phase in under 30 days, then moving on to a full implementation.
During their implementation, the CLEAR team learned the importance and power of performance management on mobile. Pathlight’s mobile apps became a huge selling point for ambassadors to see their performance on the go (and even on the floor when they’re working).
They also gleaned insights about their team: “During the rollout, we learned a lot about our own metrics and what motivates ambassadors, and we were able to tweak Pathlight along the way to make sure that we matched their needs,” explains Jimmy. “By fine-tuning the platform to show our ambassadors what they care about, we built trust in the product and saw adoption steadily increase.”
Using Pathlight: From daily check-ins to airport-specific goals
The CLEAR team now uses Pathlight for many aspects of their performance management, including:
- Daily check-ins on overall company and team performance: Leaders like Cory Morton, a Divisional Sales & Service Manager, check Pathlight every morning to see how teams performed the previous day.
- Scheduling and preparing for one-on-ones: Using the Google Calendar integration, managers save time scheduling meetings and ambassadors can review their performance and prepare for their meetings.
- Messaging and team communication: Managers use Pathlight to congratulate their team on a great day or share news, allowing folks to respond and react right in the platform. They also send out network-wide messages on a weekly basis to update teams on what’s happening across the company. “The communication Pathlight enables creates a much more cohesive channel for connection and team communication,” says Jimmy. In 2021, CLEAR managers sent over thirty-five thousand coaching messages. Coaching messages based on metrics improved performance by 15% across critical performance metrics.
- Tracking airport-specific goals: Because every CLEAR airport has localized goals, managers use Pathlight to set goals for their team and environment. Instead of aiming for generic, company-wide goals, every team tracks progress towards their custom outcomes.
- Ongoing performance monitoring throughout the day on mobile devices: Ambassadors rely on the Pathlight mobile app to check their stats as they go about their work. “It was really important for us to meet our ambassadors where they are, which is on the go, moving around the airport throughout the day, and not sitting at a desk or at a computer,” says Jimmy.
- Transparency between managers and ambassadors: Ambassadors know how they’re doing, can see feedback in real-time, and are encouraged to communicate with their managers to get support when they need it.
Driving outcomes for ambassadors and members alike
“I use Pathlight every single day—When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I do is check how our teams are performing across the entire network,” Jimmy says. “I dive into top leaderboards and see who performed well on the prior day and who struggled a little bit. I send messages to teams to either congratulate them or discuss any difficulties they had. As I travel to different locations in the network, anytime I land in a new location, I pull up Pathlight to see who our top performers are, how we're doing, and where we have opportunities to improve. It’s an incredibly effective tool to support me as a leader traveling the country.”
Using Pathlight provides the CLEAR team centralized information so anyone can see the data they need. Instead of sifting through various applications and spreadsheets to gather information, managers and ambassadors have the information they need in the palm of their hands, which saves time, improves efficiency, and increases visibility and trust.
What’s more, using Pathlight empowers ambassadors to increase their take-home pay. CLEAR’s ambassadors achieve their financial goals by using Pathlight to track and project their commissions so they can execute their goals and earn the commissions they want. “Pathlight has enabled team members to see how much their take-home pay is impacted by their daily performance,” Jimmy explains. “It’s an incredibly powerful tool that motivates our team members.”
With Pathlight, managers manage better, improving the employee and member experience alike. “Our biggest win after starting to use Pathlight was that our managers were able to get out of the office and focus on the member experience on the floor,” Jimmy says. “They were able to coach team members, receive real-time feedback on performance, identify areas of opportunity, and fix any issues in the moment.”
Since implementing Pathlight, CLEAR has seen improvements across several metrics, including:
- Internal promotions: Ambassadors who want to grow are able to track their progress with Pathlight, so the team has seen a huge increase in internal promotions. “Our ambassadors are owning their success, wanting to learn and do more—that was possible when we introduced Pathlight,” says Jimmy.
- Ambassador engagement and retention: Ambassadors use Pathlight daily to check their performance, receive coaching, and feedback from their managers. As a result, they’ve seen an increase in their employee engagement scores as well as their ambassador retention rates.
- Improved employee experience and connection across locations: With a growing network of locations across the country, CLEAR has connected its geographically disparate teams in a way they never thought possible using Pathlight. Teams across the country now compete against each other using leaderboards, and they communicate and collaborate with each other—something they were previously unable to do.
“Since implementation, we know that 90% of our ambassadors are checking Pathlight daily, which we know is driving exceptional performance across our entire network of airports,” Jimmy says. “We’ve seen almost all of our core metrics rise since we implemented Pathlight and we're incredibly proud of that success.”
Enabling success and growth with Pathlight
With a recent resurgence in travel, CLEAR has felt the importance of creating amazing member experiences for members coming through its lanes. “Pathlight will continue to allow us to increase our NPS scores by keeping our managers on the floor and giving real-time feedback directly to our ambassador population who strives to create a great member experience,” Jimmy says.
This will prove increasingly important as CLEAR looks to the future—and continues to expand. In the years ahead, CLEAR will move into new verticals in sports, entertainment, hospitality, colleges, and universities. Through such growth, their dedication to the member experience will stay a top priority—and enabling their teams to succeed will be critical.
“We know that we have a great partner in Pathlight that will help fuel our continued growth by enabling us to create amazing member experiences along the way,” says Jimmy. “After all, using Pathlight has made all of our lives at CLEAR much easier: We know how we're performing in real time, our managers are able to coach team members in real time, and our ambassadors are getting the feedback that they want and crave to be successful in their jobs.”
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