Yelp, the review site created to enable people to talk about local businesses, is giving customers the ability to communicate with restaurants and shopkeepers more directly.
Now, customers will be able to send messages to businesses within Yelp. The new feature, available for all businesses who have claimed their free business owner’s account, places a messaging link in a business’ contact information.
“While some customers prefer to pick up the phone, others would much rather communicate via a keyboard,” Yelp wrote in a blog post, “so this feature adds one more way to reach out to businesses, while giving business owners another opportunity to close the loop and receive even more leads.”
To make responding to customer inquiries easy, business owners are able to respond directly from their email accounts.
And customers will be given very useful information about how quickly businesses respond to Yelp messages. When they call up the message box, they will see a note with an average response time — “Currently responding in about 2 days,” for instance. That, of course, would be a good signal to make an old-fashioned phone call.
Postscript: This post was updated to remove the word “text” from the headline and body copy. To be clear, the messages are sent and received within Yelp and email, not text or SMS.