Yell Staff Spotlight: Fiona Coles on her 25 years with Yell

Gold Award-winning Customer Liaison Executive Fiona Coles has 25 years service working with Yell. Since joining in 1984, she has moved from Reading to Birmingham and from the Processing team to Quality Assurance. Yell Careers talks to Fiona about her long career with us, how Yell has grown over her time with the company and her passion for chasing the Northern Lights!

How did you start your career with Yell?

I left school in 1984, which happened to coincide with Yell moving offices from Holloway to Reading. Yell were expanding and I was recruited to work in the Processing department. We were responsible for processing all the orders for Yellow Pages advertisements and for dispatching the artwork instructions to the studio.

In 1991, I relocated to the Midlands with my husband and joined ITT World Directories, who were one of the two sales companies for Yellow Pages at the time.  I liaised with the Reading Processing department, Sales teams and the production studios, to ensure that all advert orders were published in their relevant directories. 

What attracted you to working at Yell?

The Yellow Pages was the market leader and a well-known, quality brand.  The company offered good benefits and flexible working hours. I thought that working in the advertising team would be interesting and, with so many people joining the company at the same time, we could support each other.  The work force was of a similar age and there were opportunities for socialising.  In fact, I even met my husband while working in the Reading office.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I work in the Quality Assurance team. We help improve quality in our Birmingham, Manila and Hyderabad customer service teams through system, call and email coaching. My team is currently focused on helping the department adopt our new company-wide Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. We provide desk-side support and feedback, listen to calls and identify positive aspects or areas of focus, which are then fed back to the teams.


From left:  Paula Anthony, Fiona Coles and Sukhi Samra – all reaching their 25 year anniversary with Yell.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Yell?

Quite a few of the people working in my department have been with Yell for many years so we have built up good working relationships.  I feel that I can always get the support I need from my colleagues and managers.

What’s the most exciting or enjoyable project you’ve worked on over your time at Yell?

In the mid-1990s I was part of a training team responsible for delivering a new system and work process to all our Customer Service staff throughout the UK (Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Reading, Southampton and Surbiton offices).  It was a great opportunity to visit all our offices and get to know people I had only previously spoken to on the telephone.


From left: Sukhi Samra, Paula Anthony and Fiona Coles – all reaching their 25 year anniversary with Yell.

How has your role changed over your 25 years at Yell?

New products, technologies and company focus has ensured that my role is ever-changing.  I have worked in many roles since joining the Birmingham office: Pre-production, Customer Service, Training, Order Processing, New Media Technical Support, Billing Support, Sales Helpline, Website Customer Service and Quality Assurance. 

How have you seen Yell grow and improve over those 25 years?

Yell has really changed from a manual-process company to a technologically-driven company.

When I joined the Birmingham office in 1991 we had one telephone and one computer per team. Order forms were microfilmed and you had to find the right tape for the day the order was received to view the order.  Advertisement proofs and amendment copies were filed on shelves and it was time consuming if we had to find a copy of anything.  It was also dependant on the last person filing the document in the right place!  Any amendments to advertisements had to be hand written and couriered to the studio. Now, all our processes are completed online.  This ensures that there is a system record at every stage of the process and customer information is at our finger tips.

After focusing on Digital Solutions, Yell is in a stronger position than ever and the outlook is optimistic.  Indeed, the Birmingham office in which I work has recruited many new team members in the last year or so and there are opportunities for people to develop by moving into other roles.

How do you feel your role at Yell lets you show off your skills or interests?

The speed of change in Yell is fast-paced and there are always opportunities for people to develop their careers. Yell utilises its people to help develop systems and processes.  In our department, frontline staff were actively involved in the development, testing and delivery of our new CRM, as well as supporting its implementation on the ground in Manila and Hyderabad.  Yell recognises achievements and commitment and I was fortunate to win a Gold Award in 2006 and an ACE Award in 2015. 

What do you do when you’re not working?

I like the outdoors and I regularly go walking or cycling with my husband.  I like travelling and our holidays are usually activity based.  My passion for the past few years has been seeking out the Northern Lights and we have been to Finland once, and to Iceland five years’ running, in our bid to see them. Fortunately, we have been lucky to see them more than once on every trip!  I also enjoy cooking and regularly invite friends over for dinner.

Do you have any advice for anyone else who might want to get into your role?

Be flexible.  My role is always changing with new initiatives, which means a swift change of focus. 


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One thought on “Yell Staff Spotlight: Fiona Coles on her 25 years with Yell”

  1. It is really a starting point of my career as a business man. Your 25 years history of growing your career inspired me a lot. Thanks for the share.

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