Implementation Stories

Delivering a mindblowing customer onboarding program

Aditya Maheshwari talks about how the AppsFlyer team turned inconsistent onboarding around to delight customers
June 18, 2021
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In this session of Implementation Stories, we spoke to Aditya Maheshwari, Head of Customer Success at AppsFlyer, a global  SaaS mobile marketing analytics and attribution platform. 

In this session, Aditya talked about: 

  1. AppsFlyer’s journey towards building better onboarding experiences for their customers 
  2. Their current onboarding process 
  3. Key initiatives that have dramatically improved their onboarding experience 
  4. Their approach towards onboarding large and mid-size customers 

... and more. 

In the rest of this article, we share the key takeaways from the session. 

The shift in Appsflyer’s customer onboarding model

When Aditya joined AppsFlyer in 2017, their CS team was focusing on getting their SDK integrated. Value delivery or customizing the onboarding process for different customers had taken a backseat.

Each customer would receive a standard eight-point email with links to the knowledge base and how-to resources. The customer’s experience depended on the CSM handling the account.  As a result, there was little to no consistency. 

In 2018, a  big customer with 50 different businesses, 50 apps, a 300-member team, and 20 C-level executives had to be onboarded. The internal leadership at AppsFlyer also wanted a full view of the process. The team resorted to Google Sheets, template emails, recorded sessions, and a few live sessions to get through the onboarding. 

This project was an eye-opener for the team. During this project, the team learned that they had to develop a structured and streamlined process. They realized they had to go beyond the basics and understand what each customer wanted to achieve to make the onboarding journey as value-driven as possible. This meant narrowing down the customer’s top two or three high-priority things instead of a set of 10-20 generic focus items. 

This approach, Aditya shares, also meant that while designing the onboarding experience, they had to look consider goals at (1) The company level, focused on higher revenues or improved process efficiency, etc., and (2) the employee level: employees’ professional goals in the customer team. This thinking led them to develop a mission statement focused on value-driven and consistently mind-blowing customer experiences.

AppsFlyer’s customer onboarding process

The customer onboarding process is divided into two phases: pre-onboarding (includes the sales handoff and planning for implementation) and the actual onboarding. 


As part of the handoff, the onboarding team gets a full download on the customer, their business, their expectations, the sales promises made, the people involved in the decision, etc., from the Sales Managers and Account Executives. 

They put together a plan for their CRM (Salesforce) and designed a customer portal based on the plan. 


Onboarding is further broken down into four phases: Kickoff, Implementation,  Training, and Review. 

A key part of this phase, Aditya notes, is the active effort to migrate customers off the current solution—this eliminates the risk of them continuing to rely on a familiar option. In parallel, the team educates the customer on the product and what they can do with it through videos. 

In the Review phase, they review the ROI and adoption, providing any benchmarking insights on the implementation. 

The duration of the onboarding can range from 45 days to four months, depending on how well and how soon the customer’s tech team can integrate the AppsFlyer SDK. 

Key changes that improved AppsFlyer’s customer onboarding methodology

  1. Having a concrete customer onboarding plan. Having a customer portal and things the customers need during the onboarding process before formally starting the implementation, so they know what to expect. 
  2. Having quarterly Onboarding Business Reviews (OBRs) and Executive Business Reviews (EBRs), especially for high-tier customers. The first quarterly business review, which AppsFlyer refers to as OBR, measures achievements against expectations to showcase promised value to the customer. The OBR involves all stakeholders from CS and Sales leaders to customer leadership and end-users. It holds the team to high standards and helps validate the direction they're going in and course-correct as needed.
  1. Having a dedicated ‘AppsFlyer Day’ for the customer: This was an idea suggested by a customer as a way for their team to build a personal connection with a new vendor. The AppsFlyer team spends a day at the customer’s office so the customer team can walk in and interact with them to understand what the team does or participate in sessions held by different teams.
  2. Focusing on metrics and measurement: The earlier onboarding model had a simplistic approach to measurement—they focused only on whether the SDK had been implemented and if the customer data was available. 

Today, the team measures every phase, from when the contract was signed to the training duration. This focus on time taken and the outcomes achieved in each phase has helped build accountability within the team.  

QBRs are stupid. OBRs are smart.

Dealing with challenges related to data discrepancies 

To deal with data discrepancies that incorrect implementations cause, the team works with their customer’s marketing teams to define what they want to measure. They then work with them to drive those definitions down for their tech team. 

Another activity they undertake is training customer team members to test the data they send into the AppsFlyer systems. 

Measures that helped streamline customer onboarding processes


Currently, most onboarding processes are manual, and it can be hard for customers to be onboarded without a CSM. However, the team has nailed the templatization piece with readymade email templates, and decks for all product features that act as starting points for their CSMs to guide their customers.

Internal knowledge management

The team uses spreadsheets containing information about the main product features (approx. 40 of them) for their key verticals, the personas they cater to, and the applicable use cases. With this, the AppsFlyer team aims to put together a use-case-based approach to each feature. They will have a consolidated view of all the use-cases for a particular persona from a particular industry for a particular feature.  This can help new CSMs identify the best starting points for different kinds of customers. 

The team also has a weekly CSM huddle where they discuss interesting use cases. Additionally, they have a monthly, region-level internal ‘learning hour’ meeting.

Tools for measurement and tracking

  • Amplitude, Mixpanel for in-app analytics
  • Groove for email tracking 
  • Salesforce

All the product analytics data, email, calendar data, etc., are stored in one of their databases. 

Drawing the line between CS and Support during customer onboarding 

Currently, the CSMs at AppsFlyer don’t have any support-related KPIs. 

Aditya believes that as a CSM, there will always be a reactive/problem-solving approach to customer onboarding. 

To ensure that the customer experience is better, the CSMs handle support requests that are not too technically complex. When the issue is too technical, they delegate it to an expert within the Support team and project-manage the issue.  

Streamlining low-touch and high-touch customer onboarding

The AppsFlyer team sees the 20% of customers that contribute to 80% of the revenue as the ‘main effort’ group, and this group receives high-touch and faster onboarding support. 

Onboarding for the remaining 80% of users is dealt with on an as-is and priority basis. 

How Crew reinvented their SMB customer onboarding from high-touch to self-serve

High impact ideas for customer onboarding  

  1. Make sure to spend time researching and understanding customers (with inputs from the sales and pre-sales teams), their background, and context to build a better relationship right at the start.
  2. One way to use effective conversation starters is setting a Google Alert for your customer, so you stay updated on the latest developments in their business. 
  3. Use the kickoff meeting effectively and commit to rigorous planning. A test data demo during the call and a CSAT after the kickoff call can be powerful ways to get new relationships off to a great start.
  4. Another simple yet powerful way to kick off a new customer relationship is to make a personalized introductory video for the senior leadership at the customer end.
Like what you read? Join our private, invite-only Slack community and attend the next Implementation Stories session. You will also gain access to peers, get to share knowledge on customer onboarding, implementation, and customer success.

More resources

  1. Implementation Stories
  2. Preflight Conversations
  3. The Launch Station - a podcast for all things customer onboarding
  4. Customer onboarding resources from Rocketlane

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Kirthika Soundararajan
Content Marketer @ Rocketlane

All things content at Rocketlane. I run on coffee and cat videos. Follow me on Twitter @kirthikasrajan

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