Scott Meiklejohn: Hey, I'm Scotty from Recharge, host of Hit Subscribe. On this episode, we're chatting with Danielle Filip, director of customer experience, and Melanie Corrigan, director of eCommerce and marketing at BIOHM Health. BIOHM is a gut health company rooted in over 40 years of science. We chat with Danielle and Melanie about the personalization and education efforts BIOHM provides our customers like their at home microbiome test. They also share with us how completely overhauling their customer portal used for managing subscriptions dramatically improved their retention and CX bandwidth. Then they walk us through their efforts to build up their brand presence on social media by educating people easy to understand and digest content. Pardon the digest part. So, let's get this started. Melanie and Danielle, thank you so much for joining us.
Melanie Corrigan: Hi.
Danielle Filip: Hi!
Scott Meiklejohn: So, could you tell us a little bit about yourselves and a little bit about BIOHM. Danielle, why don't we start with you?
Danielle Filip: Sure. So, I'm Danielle. I am the director of customer experience at BIOHM health. I have been working with our co-founder and president for 11 years now on different ventures, not on BIOHM. But BIOHM started In 2017 and we quickly, quickly grew and our team needed to be expanded very quickly. And then that's when Melanie came in on the team as a little bit of a helper for me, but she also quickly evolved into her role at bio as well.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah, Melanie, your role is very interesting how it gets started. So, please tell-
Melanie Corrigan: Oh my God.
Scott Meiklejohn: ... us the tale of how you joined this team.
Melanie Corrigan: You have no idea. So, when I first joined BIOHM, I started just to help our CEO out, just to be kind of like an admin. That literally lasted two weeks. Small company, you totally expect that you're going jump around a little bit, but literally two weeks. So, then I quickly helped Danielle on the customer service side and we worked together to build and understand like, what were our customer pain points? What did they need? How could we streamline these processes? What could we do to just make the whole entire experience better? And then I shifted into an ambassador social media role, and now I'm the director of eCommerce and marketing. So, it all laddered up very well to be what my role is today. But it definitely was just like a runaround, but I think that's good because I was able to learn about different pain points, learn about different areas of the business and shape and understand this whole entire marketing picture.
Melanie Corrigan: And BIOHM being a gut health company, we have so many customers who come to us who have issues or who they're dealing with things, or they want to optimize their gut. They want this different lifestyle, and through our products and through the research and the science, and the expertise that we have, we're able to share that with them, while also helping them finding the products that they need, whether it's through our testing kit or just through our customer service team. They do such a great job of really guiding the customer in the best way possible. So, my journey wasn't a runaround, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Scott Meiklejohn: Through all of these conversations, and I mean, through our own experiences too, it's never a linear line, right? It's never just a straight line like what you went to school for, then you're this. I find that's like the rarest thing of all lately.
Melanie Corrigan: If you're boring.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah. And very boring. If you are completely new to BIOHM, would one of you mind explaining, it is a gut health company, but could you go a little further about what you guys do and what you stand for?
Melanie Corrigan: Sure. So, BIOHM is a gut health company rooted in over 40 years of science. So, the creator of BIOHM, Dr. Ghannoum, he actually studies at a Case Western Reserve. He has his PhD there. So, he is not a medical doctor, but he really knows his stuff. We call him the fun guy because literally he's so fun. And what he found through research was that there was this specific marker. He first was a looking at Crohn's patients and he noticed that there was a lot of these probiotic companies out there that focused just on bacteria. Well, when you look at the gut, it's made up of more than just bacteria and no one was focusing on the fungi aspect. And him being the fun guy, he actually coined the term, the micobiome, which I know you probably think I was supposed to say micro, I'm not. It's mic.
Melanie Corrigan: It's the body's native fungal community. So, he wanted to create a product that focuses on the total gut, because if you only focus on one part of the issue, you're not actually going to solve the problem. We always talk about and I'll get to this analogy, but he focused also on digestive plaque. So, it's not a made up term, there are biofilms. They exist in so many different parts of our body. The one that you'll know the most, the analogy I was talking about is on your teeth. So, if you don't brush your teeth, you're going to get plaque, cavities, enamel eroding. There's a plaque that also exists inside your gut. So, if you don't focus on that, problems can arise. Everyone is different obviously. So, he noticed that there was this lining of digestive plaque, and he wanted to create a product that could help write that down, so that way your body can actually, one, begin to balance and take the bad bacteria and fungi, turn it good.
Melanie Corrigan: But then also allow you to absorb and have your body enjoy all of the good that it's doing. Because having that plaque was really preventing it. So, his son is the CEO and he really wanted to take his dad's research out of being locked in a school, in an ivory tower is what he always says, and bring it to consumers to really help them. So, BIOHM's been around for about five years now, and we've really focused on trying to create products that are truly gut centric that really help, and we use our data and science to be able to do that. So, all of our products are thoroughly thought out through the research of Dr. Ghannoum, and then we also have a testing kit as well. You can send your poop in the mail. We'll tell you exactly what's going on, analyze the bacteria and the fun guy in your gut, and help you with dietary supplemental and lifestyle recommendations on how to fix it. So, in a nutshell, it's hard to talk about BIOHM so fast, because it's like so robust.
Scott Meiklejohn: Here's the scope of it. Here's the elevator pitch. No, I thought that was wonderful. And I think it's called, is it the gut test? Is that the-
Melanie Corrigan: Correct.
Scott Meiklejohn: ... the take home? I think that's so smart and so necessary. I'm sure to someone who's a novice to this, but is hoping to figure out their gut and understand it more, it could be very overwhelming to be like, where do I even get started? So, to cover that up front and have them send in their stool, their poop, no easy way to say it guys. Let's do it then.
Melanie Corrigan: We're not shy talking about poop here. Most people, they know where to start with a product. They don't know what to do after the fact or like what the actual root cause is. So, by being able to look at all of those levels inside the gut, as well as dietary lifestyle and supplement of the person itself, because people often assume that gut health is just a one fix. You need a supplement. It's not. You have to focus on your levels of stress. Are you sleeping enough? What are you eating? Are you exercising? Danielle and I used the analogy. Her and I could eat the exact same things. We could take the exact same supplements, but because we are at different ages, we will have different microbiomes, which means she may need more sleep than I do, or stress that I have may affect my gut differently than hers even if every single component was the same.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah. I need about 20 hours of sleep at night. So very, very different for other people. Danielle, as the head of CX, can you talk to me about post you get the results. What comes next for the customer after the gut test comes back to you guys?
Danielle Filip: Absolutely. So, when we first launched the BIOHM gut test kit, we did exactly what Melanie said. You get a report and it reports the levels of bacteria and fungi in your gut, and whether or not those are considered normal. We got a lot of feedback very quickly that customers didn't know what to do with that information. So, we evolved our program into including microbiome registered nutritionist, who are actually trained directly by Dr. G. We call Dr. Ghannoum Dr. G. And they would analyze the report results, so those levels. And then also we created a lifestyle questionnaire that customers fill out prior to sending the sample. And with all that information combined, they're able to supply the customer with dietary lifestyle and supplemental recommendations.
Danielle Filip: And we go above and beyond just recommending our products. Sometimes we know that our product may not be the right fit for everybody. So, in those recommendations, you'll find other branded products too. We're not just trying to sell biome. There are other products that may be better for someone else, and those will be in those recommendations too. So, ever since we implemented the registered nutritionist into the fold, we've seen such a positive feedback with that entire process.
Scott Meiklejohn: Oh yeah. I could totally see that. And how soon did subscriptions come into this? When you guys set this up to begin with, did you think, oh, we should offer these on subscription or did that come a little later on?
Danielle Filip: Yeah, they were instant. So, when we launched, we knew we wanted to have a subscription option, which is why we joined Recharge, and we implemented it right from launch. We've seen our subscribers grow significantly over time. We're at almost 6,000 subscribers and it's been so cool to see the evolution and how well we're able to keep our subscribers.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah. I'd love to talk about some of those levers that you managed to tweak and pull to keep that retention up to take churn down. I think early on in our pre-call when we were talking about this, we were chatting about you guys learning about the customer portal or rather the customer's telling you about the customer portal and some frustrations they had there.
Danielle Filip: Yeah, exactly. So, I like to say that people like myself and Melanie and a lot of other people on the BIOHM team are critical problem solvers. So, we like to recognize a problem and fix it. Shortly after launching BIOHM on subscription, we realized that not everybody had access to their subscriptions because they weren't making it an account at checkout. So, they were getting the reminder email, they were able to manage their subscriptions from that, but they were thinking they had an account. So, when they were trying to access to manage their subscriptions, they weren't getting anywhere. So, we were getting a lot of frustrated customers. We were getting some friction in that aspect. So, we actually worked really, really hard for almost four months with our development team to make a completely custom account portal for our customers, so that when they log in, the options that they have are so easy to use and at their fingertips directly to help them manage those preferences.
Danielle Filip: Whether it's not keeping a subscription, just one charge and it'll go to the next month, it can be modifying your quantity, it can be swapping to a different product, adding a discount code. We also do have the regular retention efforts in there as well that Recharge offers, so that if somebody does go to cancel, we're prompting them with other options too. So, it was a combination between the great things that Recharge has to offer, but also us taking this and making it completely BIOHM, and taking that feedback from our customers and making it into a better experience.
Scott Meiklejohn: And Melanie, did you see that impact churn? Was that kind of noticeable right away after doing these things?
Melanie Corrigan: Oh my gosh. We spend a lot of time on retention. Not just like the number of subscribers we have, but how many people we are bringing back. So, a lot of people say like, oh, well, we're retention focused because we have 17,000 subscribers. Well, how many of your customers return? You have to focus on both of them. And we saw our churn rate get as high as, it was like 19.5%. And the second we implemented the portal, literally one month, it went from 19 to I think like 11. It was absolutely insane. We worked really hard to implement our rewards program into the portal, so that way our customers were able to use their rewards that they were working so hard to get. And we now see on average about anywhere from five to 600 customers just modifying their stuff inside their accounts. So, they're going in there. They're making changes.
Melanie Corrigan: Churn rate is now even lower. We're at about like a 10.8 month today. So, we're seeing that our customers are one, happy that they're able to modify, swap, anything Danielle was saying, skip, but then they're also able to access the rewards, redeem those points on their upcoming purchases, which means they're staying around longer. So, we still have a little bit more work to do, right? It's never ending, but as time goes on, we're hoping to see that they stay a subscriber longer and that they add on more subscriptions, or they manage their out more. Because what we were finding before was that people were getting so frustrated when they thought they had an account, they didn't and they couldn't access their subscription, they were mad. So, they'd be like, just cancel my subscription, I'm over this. And then it would cause that friction and you don't want to burn any bridges.
Melanie Corrigan: Danielle and the customer service team, we try to go above and beyond for our customers within whatever aspect we can. If your order was delayed and it's not our fault, we will do anything we can, refund shipping or if it's damaged in the mail, obviously not our fault. We will try to do anything to make sure that the customer has the best experience possible, because at the end of the day, that's what keeps people coming back. And that's what keeps them wanting to be a part of your journey. Even if there are some like little things in the back of their mind, they're like, well, that Danielle, she was so great that I want to come and talk to her.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah. I'm glossing over the specifics. You guys gave me some examples of some of the stuff you do for your customers, and you definitely go above and beyond. It's so great to see. I love having you both on because that gives me a great pivot. Back to you, Danielle, and the CX team. When Melanie was talking about those like 400, 500, 600 modifications to the customer portal, where were those going before? I know it is, they were going right to you guys in support.
Danielle Filip: They were going right to us, with us trying to keep them on by any retention effort possible. But ultimately we did see a lot of cancellations just because that friction was already there, people were already frustrated. If you got an email saying, "Cancel this. I don't want it tomorrow." You have to process it. You can't be like, are you sure you want to go? So, we definitely saw that. And those numbers that she's speaking about, those are weekly numbers. They're not even monthly numbers. So, we're seeing 500, 600 people modifying these subscriptions on a weekly basis rather than canceling. So, it's incredible.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah.
Melanie Corrigan: Well, and one thing too that I think, like when customers would email us, you get an email three days before your subscription renews. So, imagine someone gets the email on Friday morning. Danielle doesn't have enough time to get to that ticket yet. Come Monday, that subscription's renewed. And that customer is now so mad.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah.
Melanie Corrigan: And guess what, the order has already been shipped from our or 3PL, we can refund the charge, but now we've lost the shipping cost, the product, the customer's aggravated. Although we've refunded them, they still get the product. Then they're confused. So, now that people are able to go in there and modify it themselves, they're like, I don't want to get this tomorrow because I'm going to be out of town. I can change it myself so easily because I know how to use this.
Scott Meiklejohn: And for example you guys, Danielle, on the CX side to cover other issues where you can be helping out more and making more impact?
Danielle Filip: 100%. Yeah.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah. It's so interesting in talking to other merchants too and just talking about how frustrating of a problem this can be pre customer portal fix. Because these aren't customers who are hating your products or leaving you for a competitor, they're just frustrated with the experience itself. So, I think it is so smart to put so much energy and time into that to get that right so that you can free yourself up in the future. Melanie, I know-
Melanie Corrigan: I always use a bunch of different services when I'm shopping or food, and sometimes I'll go in there and randomly I'll just get a reward just because. And it just makes you feel so good inside. You're like, wow, they thought of me. They're giving me a reward. I use Chick-fil-A as an example all the time because I'm so obsessed. But I'll get a reward from the owner of the one by me and I'm like, oh my God, I got a free chicken sandwich. This is amazing. So, one of the things that Danielle and I are working on is trying to be able to have these automatic little things that our customers can get when they go in.
Melanie Corrigan: And everyone knows that they're not thinking of just me, but I either fall into a certain requirement, a status, a loyalty level and that's why I'm getting it. But that doesn't matter because you're like, wow, I got this. They thought of me. They wanted me to get this. And you know what, they're more likely to come back and spend more, which helps your retention rate. And overall it keeps everyone happy.
Scott Meiklejohn: When did you guys first introduce that rewards program? Is that newer or has that been around for a little bit?
Melanie Corrigan: Well, we had a rewards program. When I first started we were using Smile, and we honestly weren't taking advantage of it. It didn't have as many capabilities. Obviously we didn't have the custom portal yet, but people were earning points and I don't even think people knew how to do anything with them. It wasn't integrated anywhere. It was kind of a disaster. So, back in, I think 2020, I don't know, all the years blend together. But 2019, 2020 we implemented Yapo. And so we get loyalty reviews and we also get this really cool visual UGC. And since implementing that, working on the customer portal, our loyalty redemption rate is higher than their standard participation rate. And that's so great to see because we went from having something that people couldn't even use, to now having something that people can't get enough of taking advantage of.
Scott Meiklejohn: I'd love to talk, Melanie, I know this is your baby to start. I'd love to talk about social media and Instagram. And let me pull it up. You think you got about 50,000 followers on Instagram right now. When you first came in as the EA executive assistant or whatever it was, what was the social situation like then?
Melanie Corrigan: Nonexistent. I will never forget the day. I think this was probably like two weeks in. I don't even think I made it that long. And I had went to the CEO, Afif, and I was like, does it look like we're posting on Instagram? And he was like, "Oh, I'm not sure." And I'm like, "I think that this is social suicide." He was like, "Okay, go for it. If you want me." He had like barely 2000 followers and we worked really, really hard to like our brand presence. I mean, if you go on our Instagram right now, you'll see me on there. I'm doing embarrassing things. I don't care because that's relatable. It's what people want to see. It's how people can understand. And we use the pun all the time, but they're literally able to digest the content so much differently.
Melanie Corrigan: We have a lot of science and it's really hard to follow. So, it was trying to build a strategy on social to educate people at the level that they can understand. It doesn't make sense if we're going on there talking about all these terms, and species, and fungus levels and bacteria levels, and people are like, I don't know what this is. Over their head they don't care. So, we try to make it really relatable. We try to do recipes because you can use our products when you bake, we try to do memes, like infographics, videos, whatever we can. And we found that that's clearly what's gotten us to this point, but we also worked really hard to build our ambassador program. So, a year after I started, after I was helping Danielle with the customer service, I started to taking on more of that ambassador social role more and more, like when I say super heavy. And we built our ambassador program and it's never ending.
Melanie Corrigan: But the one thing that I love the most is that it's so genuine. The people who try our product to become ambassadors, they're not paid to be talking about BIOHM. They're subscribers. They're people who get the product on a monthly basis, they truly love it. And sure they are able to share a discount code with their followers and get a commission because of that, but it's so much more genuine when you actually like it yourself and you are actually someone who's paying to get it. So, we worked really hard to build that foundation with them and to make sure we were establishing like, anyone can be an ambassador. We'll never turn you down. I don't care if you have one follower on Instagram because you may have a following somewhere else or you may have word of mouth. And our ambassadors, they love the brand so much and I think that also helped with our social media strategy, because then it just solidified this whole ecosystem of what we were trying to do and accomplish, and still are trying to accomplish today.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah. It's that authenticity that always rings through. People can tell, they can see behind a veneer of if you're faking it, if you're paid for this or something. But when ambassadors, when influencers really believe in the brand, you can tell and you want to buy those products too. Danielle, as someone who's been at the company for a while and seen the different evolutions of it as it's gone on. We like to ask people who come on here, what piece of advice they would give? If you're just starting out in DTC or just starting out a subscriptions for program, is there anything that stands out after seeing how BIOHM has evolved as like something you should focus on if you're just considering jumping in the subscription commerce game?
Danielle Filip: Try anything and definitely utilize all of the tools that your subscription based company has for you. We definitely utilized everything that Recharge had for us right off the bat. Like retention strategies. If someone want to cancel, we ask them why and then we offer them either to push out their subscription if they have too much product We offer them a discount if it's too expensive. Utilize all of the options that that specific service has for you, because it will truly, truly make a big difference. And then don't be scared to explore custom themes and custom portals and stuff like that. So, we had a great program before that, but then we evolved it into this very, very accessible and manageable service. And we have seen such a great return on that and a great experience for our customers. So, just don't be afraid to try anything, and utilize all of the tools that you have the option to use.
Scott Meiklejohn: I think that's great.
Melanie Corrigan: Push your team. I feel like you have to push the team. Push management and help them understand the issues you're having. Like Danielle and I, we cried. Don't let us fool you. There were a lot of tears shed. And we put proposals together about why we needed things and what impact it was going to make, what it was going to drive to the business. You're never going to make change if you don't push for it yourself, because people who are higher level, they're never going to see the issues that you are dealing with on the day-to-day ground level.
Melanie Corrigan: Like Danielle said, try everything and don't be afraid to fail if you try something and it doesn't work, because only you will know, no one else will. But then push to get your things to happen and don't give up on them. Don't take defeat as like, oh, not right now. Well, then try again or redo it differently, or see if you can break it up. We broke ours up over the course of four months and that was just for actual development work. So, it is doable. You can make it happen.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah. Especially if you're someone who's in a customer facing role like you guys were, Danielle, you still are, where you're always having these conversations with the voice of the customer. You're hearing what they want or what they're frustrated with. Yeah.
Danielle Filip: 100%.
Scott Meiklejohn: What was I going to add there?
Melanie Corrigan: Sorry.
Scott Meiklejohn: Oh, no, it's totally fine. What I was going to say was making that, I'm thinking of canceling or pausing my order, very smooth and seamless and a nice experience. Customers will come back. Sometimes they just want to shop around or they just want to take a break. Something might be going on in their life. But if you can make that conversation smooth, then they can come back. And it's like a resurrection retention. They will come back just depending on how you treat them on the way out. So, I think that's very smart to do those surveys on the way out, see why they're doing it and see if there's any trends that are happening. What's next for-
Melanie Corrigan: If you make it harder for people to cancel, I don't see why they would come back.
Scott Meiklejohn: No, no. Yeah. We've all been through that. When you're trying to cancel and you got to click here, do this, do that, do that.
Melanie Corrigan: Contact them. And whenever I see you have to contact me to cancel, oh, I get in an uproar. I'm like, how dare you tell me I have to contact you to wait seven days to hear back from you to cancel something that I don't want anymore.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah. It's my money on-
Melanie Corrigan: And I guess what, I'm never going to it again.
Scott Meiklejohn: Exactly. You're not coming back. You will not be coming back to that program. What about for 2022, what's BIOHM got on the schedule or what's next, what's coming? What are you guys excited about?
Melanie Corrigan: So many things. One of the things that I talked about earlier is that we are so focused on the science, and the research and everything we can find from our gut tests. So, when people take the tests, we talked about how they fill out a questionnaire that analyzes who they are, the lifestyle diet, and supplements that they take. We're able to see people who, like I compare Danielle and I. We're at different ages, but we can have the same lifestyle. So, we're able to see, does age play a factor? Does gender play a factor? Does my height play a factor or does where I live play a factor? All of those do. So, we're really working hard on trying to create products from the information that we receive to really help our consumers next level. So, we are launching new products. We just launched a new one a couple weeks ago.
Melanie Corrigan: We have a new service launching in a couple of days, and we are just so excited because there are so many new things coming in the pipeline and I think the research that we are doing, and not we, I really mean Dr. Ghannoum and his team. The research that's being done to create the products with the result of helping people, I think is what makes it most exciting. I would also say we have a lot on the actual consumer side, more related to this conversation. Danielle and I are working with our development team. We just put together our entire plan for the upcoming quarters of all of the things that we want to do.
Melanie Corrigan: Some of those popups, some of the changes to our website and the customer portal, and all these little things. That you may think of a change being small, but it goes and makes a large impact for the consumer. So, we're always trying to tool back and forth of like, how can we bring products that'll actually help make an impact to the gut? And also how can we make a change to the actual direct consumer experience that will create this whole ecosystem of happiness, I guess you could say?
Scott Meiklejohn: We really love talking to you guys because you can genuinely tell you guys aren't just trying to sell these supplements or anything like that. You care about your customers. You want to make their lives better through the gut health, and that's just really shown through. It's something we've commented on here behind the scenes. So, we really commend you guys for, I'm sure that's part of your brand mission statement, but you guys yourselves really embody it as well. One of the last questions we like to ask, Danielle, I'll go to you first is, what physical subscription products do you subscribe to, or are there any that are coming to your house on regular intervals? Is that a look of, oh gosh, there's too many or it's just pure BIOHM?
Danielle Filip: No, no. No. It's just two. It's just obviously BIOHM. I'm not even kidding. I take our probiotic and our Multi every day. Sometimes I use the Super Reds too, but I'm typically just a capital type person because it's easy to remember and I don't have to do much for it. But Melanie knows that I am obsessed with sparkling water, so I do have Spindrift delivered biweekly. So, those are my subscriptions, BIOHM and Spin drift.
Scott Meiklejohn: Okay. And Melanie, same question to you. What gets delivered to your door?
Melanie Corrigan: Not much, honestly. I mean, I use my dad's subscriptions for a lot, so I guess that does count. I uses Netflix, I uses Hulu. I use my father-in-law's HBO Max, my mother's Disney Plus. I'm not going to pay for that if I can share it. So, I do have all of those. I do do a subscription on my workout bike. So, I have a subscription to that that I really like, because you can take it off on yoga. It's like full funnel. I'm sure I have others. I mean, if Chick-fil-A offered a subscription-
Scott Meiklejohn: You'd be all over it.
Melanie Corrigan: .. I can sign me up for that.
Scott Meiklejohn: Yeah. Or an ambassador program just if you're listening. Yeah.
Melanie Corrigan: I'm not at all sponsored, but someone please send me a sandwich. I take BIOHM all the time. I love trying the new products obviously, but I really like the regular probiotic. I don't have enough fiber in my diet, so the prebiotic is great for me. Not the full dosage. I only need about one. The powders are great because you can mix them and go. But sometimes I'm just like, it's easy for me to just pop a pill even though I hate swallowing things. I feel like there's probably other subscriptions I have, but [crosstalk 00:29:51].
Scott Meiklejohn: No, that's great.
Melanie Corrigan: It's so great. I don't even know I have them. That's how great the experience is.
Scott Meiklejohn: That's it. When it's seamless and when it's quiet behind the seams, that's how you know you're really in it. It has been so lovely talking to you guys and hearing more about BIOHM. So, we would just like to wish you both in all of BIOHM the best of luck in 2022.
Melanie Corrigan: Thank you.
Danielle Filip: Thank you so much, Scotty.
Scott Meiklejohn: I want to thank Melanie and Danielle once again for joining us. If you're interested in BIOHM, you can head over to biohmhealth.com. And if you're looking for more of our episodes, you can check us out rechargepayments.com/hitsubscribe.