David Malone, Belfast divisional sales manager, explains how customer service is crucial to Yell
Tell us about Yell’s presence in Northern Ireland in terms of jobs, locations, investment, etc.
Our Belfast telesales office in Donegall Square South opened in 2005, with financial investment from Invest Northern Ireland.
With a face-to-face sales presence for more than 30 years, Northern Ireland has always been a very important part of Yell’s UK network. We chose Belfast as the location of the new telesales office because of the growing pool of highly skilled potential recruits and our teams there consistently perform above average.
We have around 215 Yell marketing consultants based in Northern Ireland, with 175 of those based in our Belfast office, advising small businesses all around the UK over the phone. The remaining 40 people are in face-to-face marketing roles advising Northern Ireland businesses on marketing solutions to help grow their businesses.
Have you any new plans in terms of expansion and job creation?
We expanded our Belfast teams last summer by recruiting for 60 new roles and we are now also recruiting for another 10 media marketing consultants.
Those wishing to apply can visit: www.yell.jobs.
Has the business climate impacted on your operation? How is the firm coping with the downturn?
The economic downturn has obviously had a significant impact on small businesses and as a result, on Yell too.
We continually evaluate our business to ensure that we deliver the right products at the right prices for our customers.
Small businesses continue to see little evidence of economic recovery at the moment but as their confidence returns, the opportunity in our market remains substantial. In the meantime, we continue to support small businesses by offering value for money products and services to suit all budgets.
We continue to offer discretionary basic free line entries and have a range of effective marketing packages available including special offers and discounts, and payment plans to help businesses trying to grow.
How has Yell evolved to meet the changes in technology with the advent of social networking, rival search facilities, etc?
Technology is changing the way people find information. This is often confusing for the consumer and for small businesses, but also offers huge opportunities.
Yell aims to help small businesses navigate this confusing world and help them get found. We offer solutions that get businesses found through search engines, on Yell.com, on mobile phones and across a wide range of well-known websites including belfasttelegraph.co.uk.
Social media is an important part of this and we are embracing it by including consumer reviews within Yell.com and also promoting our advertisers on social networking sites such as Facebook.
We also help small businesses build their online presence |by providing a cost effective website creation and management service.
As an internet based business how do you reach your audience and how have you adapted to smart phones and tablets?
We have embraced mobile technology and continue to innovate as the market progresses.
Yell.com’s database of more than two million local businesses is available free on all mobile phones and we also now have specially designed free Yell apps for most smartphones and the iPad, so consumers can search for anything from pizzas to plumbers.
How do you compete with more traditional directory services such as phonebooks and telephone directory enquiries?
We publish the Yellow Pages which is the UK’s most used printed classified directory and a trusted brand for more than 40 years. We recently launched a new handy-sized compact directory that fits through letterboxes and is easier to use. Our 118 24 7 business telephone numbers and directory enquiries service was recently named Best UK Service for a fifth year, highlighting our quality service.
What percentage of business clients are repeat business/new customers?
Our customer retention rates remain stable because advertisers see the benefits of showcasing their businesses using effective marketing tools online and in print.
Yell products help to generate over £50bn per year for businesses appearing within them.
Obviously the service works for businesses. Do you have any figures or statistics to indicate how much it can raise your profile?
Yell.com has nine million unique users in addition to the other ways in which we help small businesses get found on the web. Small businesses want quality business leads and research shows that over half of users that contact a business from a Yell product go on to make a purchase.
How does sponsorship of the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards fit in with your business?
This is the second year we have sponsored the Best Small/Medium Business category and I am sure the quality of finalists will be as high as last year.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our business but also it is important to support local enterprise in Northern Ireland as our people have had a presence here for more than 30 years.