September 18, 2014

Yelp Will Let Your Customers Message You

yelp messaging

For small businesses, including those with a brick and mortar presence, handling customer feedback is getting to be a 24 hour, 7 day a week job.

Looking at sites like Yelp alone, you have regular customer reviews good and bad to monitor and respond to. There’s also the opportunity for customers to upload photos, (and more recently even Yelp video of your business.)

The site already gives address and contact information, including a phone number, in most cases. But in keeping with the times, the Yelp team has decided to add yet another feature – instant messaging.

As Yelp Product Manager Ely Lerner explains via the Yelp Official Blog:

“With more than 57 million local reviews contributed across 27 countries, there’s already a boatload of info people can gather through Yelp on any local business they’re thinking about trying. Not to mention helpful photos (and soon videos!) and attributes, like phone number, hours and Fido-friendliness. But we realize there are times when a very specific question might not be easily answered with a quick look at a business listing (and you don’t always feel like picking up the phone to inquire about).”

From the business owners perspective, messages will come via email and can be responded to the same way without even opening your business owner account.

yelp messaging

From the customer’s perspective, they will hit the “message the business owner” button on your business’s page and be given an estimated response time. (The implication here is that swift responses are a good idea, and Yelp seems to have made it pretty easy to do so.)

Of course, you can view this as just another aspect of customer service, but Yelp seems to also view the new feature as an opportunity to gain new leads.

It’s expected, after all, that inquiries about your products or services may often come from those about to make a purchasing decision (or just trying to find a really great place to have dinner with friends tonight.)

Wade Lombard owner of Square Cow Movers from Austin, TX, adds:

“This feature is a conversation starter. Responding takes just a few minutes and it almost always leads to further correspondence or a phone conversation. We believe that responding quickly helps to show the client we deeply care about winning their business.“

Oh, one more thing. Yelp does give you the option to disable this new feature. But you’ll have to decide whether doing so is sending the right message to your customers.

Images: Yelp

5 Comments ▼

Shawn Hessinger - Editor


Shawn Hessinger Shawn Hessinger is the Editor for Small Business Trends. He is a journalist and social media networker with more than a decade of experience in the traditional newspaper business before moving to the digital world. He was the former community manager of BizSugar and the former community editor at AllAnalytics, a site dedicated to professionals in the business intelligence and analytics community.

5 Reactions

  1. Nice reporting, Shawn

    I can see businesses using this immediately.

    Customer service issues handled in almost real-time?

    WOW.

    Good job, Yelp.

    The Franchise King®

  2. Wonderful, I’ve seen my share of bad reviews from people who simply did not get a call back. So now I have to worry about instant messaging as yet another pathetic excuse for a bad review…which of course Yelp fully endorses.

    “real reviews, real people” such Bee Esss, Yelp can eat dirt…

  3. I think that this is a great way for customers to get in touch with the businesses that matter to them. While this may mean that businesses may need to spend more just to get all their customer inquiries answered, it will still be worth it as it can help customers feel cared for.

  4. frederick whaley

    I think that toyota of rockwall tx is the best dealership in the world they gave me great service the sales lady was so good got everything done in a timely matter, go Cindy thank’s for everything.

  5. Yes, disabling this function sends your customers the right message, which is this:

    Yelp is a corrupt organization and I as an owner will in no way give it any validity or power over me. You can call or message me any time from any other resource and I will give you the best service I can. We don’t need Yelp’s permission to communicate.

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