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Humanising Your Brand Through Voice

March 22nd, 2022 by

Humanising your brand is the strategy of establishing an emotional connection with your customers.

With the rise of social media (and having to go digital thanks to the pandemic), it’s more important than ever to create those connections with customers by humanising your brand, even when they can’t see or meet you in person.

To do this, you should display and maintain a consistent voice for your brand that makes you relatable.

Green and yellow gradient background with laptop showing Ballyhoo home page and team page, text saying why & how to humanise your brand

Why Humanise Your Brand?

Humanizing your brand can create a sense of trust between you and your customers and make room for engaging conversation. One of the most important aspects of this is that it can help maintain a positive relationship between your company and consumer.

It can increase engagement, and present your brand as an approachable entity, which will increase your reach as well as nurture your relationships and promote customer loyalty. It can also be a good first impression for leads that are contacting you for the first time.

Humanising Through Voice

There are many tools out there that can assist you in humanising your brand – one of which is often overlooked – your phone answering ‘machine’.

Humans like two-way communication and your voicemail greeting can begin the conversation before first words are exchanged.

Phone Greeting

A greeting is the first thing that your callers hear, and allows you to inform callers that their call has been acknowledged and that they will be put through to a member of your team shortly. This is a great opportunity to announce any news or promotions relevant to your company.

Try to convey your business personality and voice in your message, by using words and phrases that express your business brand. Think: Adjectives.

For example, our phone greeting here at Ballyhoo ends “your call will be answered shortly by one of our wonderful team.” which is much better than “We will answer your call shortly”.

Additionally, you want to grip your customers. Spice your messages up by letting your brand personality shine through. Whether that’s using humour, kindness, or getting your Brummiest team member to record the phone messages – it will all help represent your brand and make you stand out from competitors.

Humanising Your Brand Through Google Voice

We use Google Voice for our phone lines, and the auto attendant feature allows us to add a message that users hear when calling, before being passed through to our team to answer the call.

How to update Auto Attendant on Google Voice

  1. Go to your Google Voice Admin Console
  2. Go to Apps → Google Workspace → Settings for Google Voice
  3. Click ‘Auto Attendant’
  4. Click ‘Default Auto Attendant’
  5. Add a Welcome Message – this is what users will hear at the start of a call 
  6. You can press the small play icon to hear what this sounds like, and click the voice icon below it to choose which voice type you’d like, language and speaking speed

What’s more, greeting messages allow you to add seasonal greetings, as well as add any important information that customers may need going forward. For example, throughout the month of December, we set our auto attendant message to include the closing dates for Christmas – to ensure that anyone who called knew in good time when we would be shut for the holidayschristmas.

On Hold Message

You can also think about updating your On Hold message – which will minimise callers perception of wait time and serve as an opportunity to share information on your products or services.

Voicemail Message

Lastly, it’s important that you regularly update your voicemail message – this is the one that callers hear when they try to contact you outside of your opening hours. In this message you can also include information on how callers can reach you by email or social media.

Brand Tips

You should regularly update messages – this is because regular callers will get bored of listening to the same greetings, and you want to be able to hold their attention. As your business evolves and grows, your phone messages should too.

Need help humanising your brand through your website? Contact us now to see how we can build a website that allows your brand personality shine through.

Ballyhoo Review of the Year 2021

December 14th, 2021 by

It’s been a whirlwind of a year here at Ballyhoo, we’ve had lots of successes, but it’s also been a year of change. We think it’s important to look back and reflect on the year, to see how far we’ve come and what we’ve achieved.

Operating As The World Changes

We went into this year not knowing what to expect, and we’ve operated through numerous lockdowns and lifestyle changes. We’ve navigated Working From Home (whilst juggling childcare and homeschooling!), had fun with creative Zoom backgrounds, and have stuck numerous swabs up our noses in order to keep the team safe. If anything, it’s been a year of learning new ways of operating!

New Team Member

Our team has grown this year, with the addition of Rebecca, who has been supporting both the team and our customers to give world class customer service. Rebecca has blended in well with the team, and is helping to grow the Ballyhoo brand and digital presence.

2021 Projects

Derricks Music

This year we launched a new website for our client Derricks Music, a Swansea-based music and events ticketer and record seller in Swansea city centre. This project included recreating logos and branding, updating the look and feel of the website, and creating control panel functionality for admins to add venues, list event tickets, and albums to purchase.

See the project

Birmingham Museums Trust

Following the success of the membership signup system, we developed a new platform for Birmingham Museums Trust to allow patrons to sign up online to support the trust.

National Fire Safety Services

We carried out a major overhaul of the fire risk assessment application we built for National Fire Safety Services, allowing the system to be whitelabelled and deployed quickly for other assessors.

NHS

We’ve launched a number of sub-sites for NHS trusts, providing valuable information and the facility to book events providing financial advice for NHS staff.

We’ve also worked on projects to 

  • make continual major improvements to an intranet for a local, specialist credit reference service
  • take over and lightly rebrand a website for a popular independent financial advisor, and 
  • work closely with an Internet solutions provider, specialising in the motorcycle industry, to provide consultation and specialist development services

A busy year then!

Looking Forward to 2022

We are looking forward to starting a new year, with plenty of exciting plans in the works and projects that we can’t wait to share. Until then – we wanted to say a big thank you for your support this year, and we are now off for a Christmas tipple or two!

Christmas Opening Times – 2021

December 7th, 2021 by

Christmas is fast approaching, and we wanted to let you know our opening times for the festive period. 

We will be closing the Ballyhoo doors at 4pm on Tuesday 21st December, ready to enjoy the festivities with our families. We’ll be back open as usual (9am-5pm) from Tuesday 4th January 2022

If you need to contact us urgently, please call the office on 0121 295 5352 and leave a message – one of the team will give you a call as soon as they can.

We’d like to thank you for your continued support throughout this unusual year, and we look forward to working with you in 2022. 

We hope you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

What is GoCardless, and What Are The Benefits?

December 1st, 2021 by

We offer GoCardless direct debit payments via our invoicing system, Xero. But what is GoCardless, and why should you use it?

What Is GoCardless, and How Does It Work?

GoCardless is an online payment service that allows businesses to collect recurring and one-off payments directly from customers’ bank accounts, using Direct Debit.

To pay, users sign up using a form and complete a payment using GoCardless secure checkout. A payment plan will then be set up, meaning payments are automatically withdrawn in the future.

Why Use GoCardless Direct Debit?

Easy Setup

With GoCardless, you only need to set up payment once – simply complete a form and the payments will be taken out automatically. This means that unlike bank transfer, cheque or card payment, you won’t need to remember to pay next time. It also means no accidental disruptions to your service, due to missed or late payments.

No Need to Update Payment Details

Unless you change bank accounts, you wont need to worry about updating payment details – even if your card expires.

Payment Certainty & Planning

By setting up Direct Debit, you’ll know exactly how much you’re paying and when it will come out of your account. Additionally, you also receive a notification before the payment is taken out, giving you a chance to raise any issues if needed. This is a huge benefit to your budgeting – as you can plan in advance the outgoings of your business.

Secure Payments

With GoCardless, your payments are protected under the Direct Debit Guarantee, meaning you can cancel anytime if a payment is taken out by error. GoCardless is also ISO 27001 accredited – a standard for information security.

Time Saving Benefits

Gone are the days where you’ll need to input your card details every time you make a payment – instead, all of your details are saved and payments are taken out automatically when you should be expecting it.

Flexible Payments

What’s more, GoCardless and Direct Debit offer the option to switch from weekly/monthly payments to annual payments – meaning more manageable installments.

Set up GoCardless with Ballyhoo

If you would like to set up direct debit payments to pay your invoices with us, please contact us now and our Accounts team will be happy to set this up for you.

GoCardless for Your Business

We can help integrate GoCardless into your website if you are interested in collecting direct debits from your customers. This helps you to reduce costs and keep track of payments, and is ideal for subscription-based products or ongoing services. What’s more, GoCardless integrates with your business software (such as Sage and Xero), to automate payment collection. Interested? Contact us now for a chat on how we can help.

(COVID-19 Update) It’s business as usual at Ballyhoo… sort of

March 19th, 2020 by

Yes, this is yet another coronavirus update. Sorry.

With events moving at a rapid pace we thought we’d better give an update on our stance on the coronavirus. In short, we are now working remotely and expect to be able to continue providing the same level of service.

The long version

Many of your websites perform critical business functions and, now more than ever, are likely to be your customers’ primary point of contact.

In the first instance, we want to reassure you that we have enacted our business continuity plan to ensure that you continue to receive the level of service and support that you have come to expect from us and that we will strive to keep your websites and emails available 24/7.

The vast majority of Ballyhoo’s business tools are cloud-based which means we are all able to work remotely. On a day-to-day basis not much will change, the exception being that our phone lines have been diverted so we may not be able to answer the phone as quickly as we’d like.

We request that for any enquiries or issues during this time you please email support@ballyhoo.co.uk. This will mean your message will be logged as a ticket and assigned to the right person for the job.

How technology can help

Your website may see increased traffic with more people working remotely or browsing the Internet if they are unable to do manual work. Please be assured that our hosting service has the ability to scale accordingly.

You can keep customers up-to-date on your own situation by regularly posting on your website’s blog or news page and by sending email campaigns.

We have already received enquiries on how to leverage new technology to find innovative workarounds, for example, to provide services virtually rather than face-to-face. If you are struggling please call or email and we will provide free consultancy and no-obligation quotes to help you negotiate these new waters to keep your business afloat.

Stay safe everyone, please reach out to us if you need to and we’ll do everything we can to help. We will keep our blog and main social channels up-to-date so please follow us for the latest news.

Support & Enquiries: support@ballyhoo.co.uk
Telephone: 0121 295 5352
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Ballyhoo’s 2019 Review of the Year

December 13th, 2019 by

As the year draws to an end, we’d like to take a moment to reflect and give a huge THANK YOU to our amazing clients for choosing to work with us over the last 12 months.

2019 was a very special year for us. It marked 10 years in business as Ballyhoo.

Our company has evolved into an established and respected digital agency and now supports not only myself and Alison, but the guys on our team, Sam, James and Evans, as well as the wider digital community through the roster of freelancers we partner with.

Whether you’re a loyal client who’s been with us since the early days or a new addition to the Ballyhoo family, we’d like to extend our best wishes to you, your teams and loved ones for the holiday season.

Holiday Opening Hours

As usual, we’ll be shutting up shop for the holidays to give the team some much-needed R&R. The Ballyhoo office will be closed as follows:

11.00am Friday 20th December 2018
until
9.00am Monday 6th January 2019

During this time, we’ll be monitoring our emails but if you have an urgent request or enquiry please give us a call, leave a voicemail and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

General enquiries: hello@ballyhoo.co.uk
Support requests: support@ballyhoo.co.uk
Telephone: 0121 295 5352

2019 Projects

This year, we’ve been delighted to work on a host of projects which have included website revamps for existing clients and new sites for established local companies as well as complex web-based applications and forays into mobile app development.

A major internal project we’ve been working on is our new branding which you’ll start to see filter through all of our media as we bring everything up-to-date. As a company which has just celebrated a decade in business, we wanted to reflect the maturity and expertise of the company. As part of this, a fully-responsive, aspirational website that showcases our abilities as a premium digital agency is currently underway and due to be launched in the first quarter of 2020.

We continue to provide first-class support for our customers too, including being official G Suite for Business resellers, investing in our hosting infrastructure and providing service level agreements for critical business systems.

Onwards & Upwards (Literally)

Only last month, we moved from our ground floor office at the Innovation Centre to a larger one upstairs on the first floor. Our new office has a dedicated meeting space and has been reimagined to strongly reflect our new branding, pulling through elements of colour and abstract pattern which really make a bold statement.

We spend a third of our waking hours at work, so it was really important to us to create a space where our team is comfortable, inspired and can feel a part of something bigger than just the sum of our parts.

We can’t wait to welcome you to the new Ballyhoo HQ.

Thank You

Once again, thank you for your business throughout 2019. We wouldn’t be here without you. Happy holidays everyone!

Celebrating 10 Years in Business

September 27th, 2019 by

Ballyhoo are proud (and a little amazed at how fast the time has gone) to announce that this year we are celebrating 10 years in business. Such a milestone is hard-won, and it’s with a lot of satisfaction that we can say that a decade on we’re still here; still making websites, still helping our clients succeed online.

Ballyhoo have developed and supported our ecommerce websites for the last 10 years and have been a key part of why we have grown year on year.

– Tariq El-Hoss, Discount Fire Supplies

At our heart, we are a team of people passionate about technology and the endless possibilities of the Internet. As a family-run business, we’ve strived to make Ballyhoo inclusive and supportive, winning us loyal staff and clients. This business is not just our livelihood, it’s part of our identity.

Back in 2009, our offering mainly consisted of e-commerce websites for small businesses (hello Internet Explorer 7). We have since expanded to offer a full-service digital agency provision, where online marketing and reliable hosting infrastructure complement expertly crafted UX. Most recently, we have moved into creating progressive web applications to meet the complex needs of organisations who require a bespoke solution.

We’re always really happy with the work that Ballyhoo do for us – their expertise and experience are a great help on projects, and their ability to create beautiful and functional websites means we can get on with running the business.

– Dave Hubbleday, Snowbus & Snowcompare

Highlights

The last ten years have brought with them a myriad of professional and personal milestones, here are some of the highlights…

2009Anthony Chaffey incorporates as Ballyhoo Ltd.
2009Alison joins Ballyhoo as Office Manager.
2010The Ballyhoo Refresh content management system, is created to accompany Ballyhoo Commerce, our proprietary e-commerce system.
2011Ballyhoo becomes VAT registered.
2012Alison and Anthony marry, officially making Ballyhoo a family business.
2012Sam joins Ballyhoo as Online Marketing Manager.
2013Ballyhoo moves to the Innovation Centre in Longbridge Technology Park, Birmingham.
2013Web developers specialising in back-end and front-end are hired, Anthony moves into project management.
2014Ballyhoo founds Longbridge Device Lab, the Midlands’ first open device lab.
2015Anthony is featured in BBC Midlands today’s coverage of Longbridge 10 years after the collapse of MG Rover.
2016Alison and Anthony welcome their first child.
2018Alison and Anthony welcome baby number two.
2019Ballyhoo celebrates 10 years in business!

Special Thanks

To our team – we wouldn’t be here without you, thank you for your hard work and for making the office a great place to work.

It’s always a pleasure working with Ballyhoo. They have supported us with online marketing and website development for many years. Great service and a kind bunch.

– Mark Redfearn, Eurofyre

A number of our clients have been with us from day one, so we’d like to give special thanks to Avery Berkel, Bedfordshire Police Federation, Building Services Controls, Derricks Music, Discount Fire Supplies, Eurofyre, Glam Lamb, Hertfordshire Police Federation, James and Uzzell, Neil Soundy Financial Services, Norfolk Police Federation, Staffordshire Police Federation and Zeta Alarms who continue to trust us with their new projects and the ongoing management and promotion of their websites.

To our families, thank you for bearing with us while we worked on weekends and holidays, for providing childcare and for supporting us through the trials of growing a business.

And thank YOU for reading!

Ballyhoo’s 2018 Review of the Year

December 14th, 2018 by

Yet another year has passed so we’re taking a moment to look back over the events of 2018 as well as look forward to everything 2019 will bring, including [SPOILER] Ballyhoo’s 10th anniversary!

This year we’ve worked on some fantastic websites for equally brilliant clients (thank you!) and also really delved into who we are and what we want to achieve with Ballyhoo as a company. As many of you reading this will attest, running your own business can be littered with peaks and troughs – 2018 being no exception. On a personal note, arguably the biggest event of 2018 was the birth of our second Ballyhoo baby, a little girl born in September! Many thanks to both our clients and the Ballyhoo team for your support while Alison and I have adjusted to our new addition.

Holiday Opening Hours

First things first, you should know when we’ll be closing for holidays this year. As usual, we’ll be shutting down operations for the festivities to give the team some much needed time off after all their hard work in 2018.

The Ballyhoo office will be closed as follows:

5.00pm Thursday 20th December 2018
until
9.00am 3rd January 2019

During this time we’ll be monitoring our emails but if you have an urgent request or enquiry please give us a call, leave a voicemail and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

General enquiries: hello@ballyhoo.co.uk
Support requests: support@ballyhoo.co.uk
Telephone: 0121 295 5352

2018 Projects

We’ve been so busy that we’re a little behind with updating our portfolio but we’ve been working on some exciting projects this year that we can’t wait to showcase for you.

Much of Ballyhoo’s work comes from repeat custom, whether it’s improvements to an existing website or the chance to collaborate with clients on new ventures. We also manage many sites as ongoing projects whereby we provide a range of services, including hosting, digital marketing and support and maintenance, to ensure that our clients’ businesses continue to perform online.

From website redesigns to freshen up visuals to web development to add new functionality, we’ve done it all this year. Most notably in recent months we’ve launched brand new versions of websites for S2S Courses and Discount Fire Supplies, two customers that we’ve been working with for many years. As their businesses have grown (we like to think with our help!) and as technologies have improved and evolved, both reached the point where the best course of action was to rebuild the websites to continue to perform for them.

It’s also been a pleasure to work with new clients throughout 2018 that we hope to continue working with for many years to come. These projects have included everything from branding exercises to web development that’s pushed the boundaries of what it’s possible to achieve on a website, utilising new technologies that we believe will soon become mainstream. In particular, we’re proud to have begun working with AGA Rangemaster this year on an innovative tool to help choose which of their amazing products best suits your needs, and with Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on a platform to help them cope with the huge demand for tickets to see the recent Dippy exhibition they put on.

Our Team

We make no bones over the fact that Ballyhoo is a small company, in fact we actually class as a micro business. It’s something we’ve considered in depth over the last couple of years and we’ve experimented with expanding the team during this time. However, as an owner-manager with an expanding team, there comes a point where you spend most of your time managing people and chasing leads and have less opportunity to do the job you love, and that’s not why we started Ballyhoo.

Ballyhoo is now a team of experts who excel in their separate fields, pulling together to create and maintain exceptional websites for our clients. Web design and development is still our main focus and strength, but in addition to our in-house team we have a roster of trusted freelancers we can rely on for the type of work we often have less demand for, including graphic design, illustration, photography and videography. We also believe that online marketing goes hand-in-hand with the success of your website and will continue to offer this as a service to give you tailored strategies to improve your website’s visibility and performance.

You can learn more about our team here but the names you need to know are:

  • Anthony – managing director and project lead
  • Alison – operations director (maternity leave)
  • Sam – online marketing manager
  • James – backend developer
  • Evans – frontend developer

So, while Alison is on maternity leave, we’re ending the year as the “core four” and we’ll be staying that way for the foreseeable.

Thank You

Once again, thank you to clients old and new for your business throughout 2018 and beyond. We wouldn’t be here without you. Happy holidays everyone!

How We Introduced Team Development Days

May 9th, 2018 by

In Q3 2017, I decided to introduce what I call “team development days” to Ballyhoo, giving us a regular outlet to impart and get feedback on key company strategy and performance, and ultimately create a stronger team dynamic.

To give a bit of background to this, in May 2016 I had my first child and subsequently took a year off on maternity leave. Coming back to work was always going to be a bit of a shock to the system, but a lot had changed in my year off, including the introduction of two new staff members. My role had also changed shape, with a bigger focus on developing the company and operational management.

Following a whirlwind couple of months and yet another new member of staff joining the team, I felt we needed a space away from the everyday to bond as an effective team and make sure everyone is on the same page about where this company is going and how we’re going to get there.

We’ve now held three team development days. I consider them to be hugely beneficial to our business so please read on to find out more and how you can incorporate them into your own strategy.

What is a Team Development Day?

The aim of a team development day is to foster personal and team development and encourage everyone to be a stakeholder in the future of the company.

A day of discussion, self-evaluation and 1:1 meetings help us to establish how we can be better team members and make progress. It’s a chance to step away from project work and the daily grind to remember why we are here and why we love (or at least like!) our jobs and our industry.

The Basics

Frequency

Team development days can take place as often as you require but I recommend quarterly as a good frequency. There’s enough time between days for real progress to be made yet they’re not far enough apart for everyone to forget what we were trying to focus on last time or lose momentum.

Location

Don’t hold them at your office if you can help it, being in a space away from our daily work stations helps the team to open up and not get distracted by any current work-related stresses or to-dos. If you have an enclosed meeting room large enough then this could be suitable as it’s unlikely your whole team spends a lot of time in there, if not hire a local meeting room or even a private venue.

Refreshments

At lunchtime, we have some downtime to order in a couple of pizzas and have a few beverages. It’s easy to get bogged down in work, and we don’t have many opportunities throughout the year to just gather together and have a chat. We keep the room well-stocked with snacks and drinks throughout the day too.

House Rules

It may take a few tries to hone the process and learn what you need to allow (or not) to get the most out of your team. However, some simple rules to follow… no phone calls, no emails, no client meetings; turn the out-of-office on and dress comfortably.

Structure

Team development day is built around a number of key areas, with an agenda to follow so everyone has an overview of what’s trying to be achieved. However, we do allow wiggle room to go with the flow if we need more time on something as we don’t want to stifle innovation.

Visioning

Visioning is a process whereby we evaluate where the business stands today and where we want it to be. Imagine that in a year’s time you are describing how successful the company has been to a journalist, then imagine the same thing but now in 5 years’ time. What do we want to have achieved? By painting a picture of where we want to be, we can then work backwards and figure out how to get there. We also take this opportunity to recognise successes, what we’ve achieved since the last team day in terms of clients won and projects completed, as well as be open about any challenges the company currently faces, including a high-level overview of our finances and target performance.

Discussion

Empowering the team to weigh-in on company strategy, points of interest and any challenges we are facing is an essential part of the day. We then use their feedback (there are no bad ideas) to map out a plan of action for the coming months and assign or delegate responsibility so we can make real progress before the next team development day.

Some of the discussion topics we’ve covered so far are outlined below, each to be discussed in turn throughout the day with a timer set for twenty minutes each. If we’re still going strong when the alarm sounds, we get a grace period of ten minutes to wrap things up.

InnovationCommunicationBranding
New TechnologyCustomer ServiceProductivity
CSRWorking EnvironmentDesign Systems
In-House ProjectsHome WorkingSoftware
MarketingAccessibilityFile Management

Employee Reviews

As a small company with less than ten staff, we have been able to incorporate our usual quarterly 1:1 employee reviews, although these have changed format slightly so they fit better within the ethos of team development day. They are still an important part of the day, allowing staff the opportunity to have a frank discussion with management, albeit with more onus on the employee to shape the conversation and identify areas for improvement or acknowledgement.

Self-Evaluation

While 1:1 reviews are taking place this is often an opportunity for the team to take some time on their own to take an inward look at how to improve themselves professionally and identify any areas to explore further. Personal progress is important – not only for Ballyhoo as a company but also for our team’s future. We hope that during your time with Ballyhoo you can honestly say you’ve come out the other end better at both your job and being a member of a team.

Guest Speakers

Something we’ve only done once so far, but would like to do again in future, is invite a guest speaker to present to the team. In this case, a business development advisor presented the results of the team carrying out a Belbin Team Roles exercise prior to the day, explaining how the strengths and allowable weaknesses of each of our roles can help us form a successful team.

Outcomes

As mentioned earlier, after team development day we map out a plan of action for the coming months and assign responsibility for each task with the aim of making discernible progress before we meet again.

By allowing ourselves time to think bigger and gain input from the team, the following are examples of what we’ve managed to achieve so far:

  • Implement key new software packages, improving communication, project management and customer support.
  • Launch two new services, GDPR Website Audits and Consultancy
  • Participate in two ERDF-funded business development programmes
  • Initiate more regular management strategy meetings
  • Identify opportunities impart our knowledge and expand our network

GDPR, Ballyhoo & You

February 28th, 2018 by

GDPR is starting to become a familiar acronym. You may be aware of upcoming changes to the law concerning privacy, and perhaps you’ve even received a few scary emails saying that the end of data protection as we know it is nigh.

But what is it all about, really? And how will it affect your website? We want to let you know in real terms what you need to know and how Ballyhoo will aim to help you transition to new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.

Disclaimer: This article provides an overview of GDPR and does not constitute legal advice. Ballyhoo’s focus is on how to become website-compliant, and we have partnered with the specialist security firm, Aristi, should you require more in-depth information on best-practice within your organisation.

Are you ready for GDPR? Are you?!

GDPR will mean a shake-up of how we manage data consent and requires more stringent policies and possible changes to your website and data storage.

Despite the law not being enforceable until May 2018, we’ve already seen a lot of information circulating about how to comply. And quite rightly, it’s much better to prepare.

GDPR will mean a shake-up of how we manage data consent and requires more stringent policies and possible changes to your website and data storage. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is a positive development and, with a little foresight and proper management, it should be reasonably painless – especially if you are already on top of your duties under the Data Protection Act.

If you’re in any doubt about how to comply and what changes you may need to make to your website (and we can almost guarantee there will be some), we’ve created a GDPR audit service especially to help you meet your obligations.

So, what is GDPR?

GDPR is a new European Directive which focuses on the rights of the individual. It is being introduced to give people more control over how and where their data is in use.

GDPR supersedes the Data Protection Act 1998 (the DPA). We’ve made many technological advances in recent years, so GDPR takes into account how these affect the way we now store and use personal data. If you are already DPA-compliant, you are on the right track and may find that not much has to change.

As a website owner, you are responsible for any data received through your website; at a minimum, you probably have at least one contact form on your site. It’s more complicated for those of you who are selling products or taking bookings online as the amount of personal data required to carry out the purpose of the website increases.

Personal data now includes other information that can be used to identify an individual, other than the information they actively provide to you, like cookies stored on their devices and IP addresses.

Should anything go amiss, you’ll also have a legal obligation to report any data breaches promptly and in their entirety to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

When does GDPR come into force?

Despite the UK leaving the EU, our requirement to adhere to GDPR will not be affected, and compliance with legislation becomes mandatory on 25th May 2018.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t start complying straight away. Many businesses are already rolling out their GDPR-compliant privacy policies and systems, with the intention of ironing out the kinks over coming months.

To whom or what does GDPR apply?

Different rules apply depending on the size and scale of your organisation, but the basics are the same, whether you are an individual or a company. You might be large enough to have a dedicated data controller who can take the lead on GDPR, but many of the companies we work with aren’t, so we’ll do what we can to help you meet your responsibilities.

How enforceable is GDPR?

As a small business owner or SME, you still have a legal duty to comply, even if you’re not sure you’re large enough to be on the ICO’s radar. You shouldn’t face any sleepless nights as long as you protect the interests of your users. In a sense, it primarily comes down to ethics:

  • Are you giving customers enough information about how you will use their data?
  • Are they able to opt-in (as opposed to opt-out) of communications when they hand over their details?
  • Do they have the right to withdraw consent, if given, at a later date?
  • Are you doing your utmost to protect their data while it is in your possession?

We can see similarities here with the “Cookie Law” of 2011. Scaremongering was commonplace when this was introduced, and many websites went a bit OTT, but as long as you employ best practice, you should have nothing to fear.

However, you should be aware that non-compliance carries fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is greater.

What is Ballyhoo doing to comply?

New Projects

From now on, we will develop every project undertaken by Ballyhoo with GDPR in mind, in advance of the law coming into force. We will discuss the requirements for compliance with clients and ensure everyone knows their responsibilities.

Existing Projects

Ultimately, the onus is on you as a site owner to comply with GDPR, but we’ll do everything we can to help. For existing websites that we have built or manage, first and foremost we recommend that you take advantage of our new GDPR audit service.

Our audit has been designed to take a snapshot of your website or application so we can pinpoint where and how to make improvements. You’ll receive a report detailing our findings, and we can then work with you to implement a plan of action. Alternatively, you can take the audit results away and work through them at your own pace, or even with someone else if you prefer.

Typically we’ll look at:

  • Data encryption and SSL
  • User registration and contact forms
  • Opt-in and explicit permission for communications
  • Privacy policies
  • Existing stored data

Hosting

We will ensure that our hosting service has rigorous security protocols in place to protect data, and we’re currently working on a new hosting infrastructure to improve our service offering using the latest technologies and protocols. More will be announced on this soon.

In-House

As for Ballyhoo’s website and systems, we will soon be introducing a new website privacy policy on ballyhoo.co.uk and carrying out an internal data protection audit so that we know precisely how and where we are collecting, using and storing data.

New information and best practice on GDPR is continually coming to light so we will be monitoring the situation closely in the lead up to May 2018 and will keep you apprised of anything else we think you need to know.