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Did Yelp Just Become Better For Businesses?

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Yelp may have a tough time overcoming negative perception from some businesses thanks to a seemingly never-ending barrage of unproven accusations, but the company continues to add features that can potentially help merchants.

Do you think Yelp is getting better for businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Yelp announced that it is now letting users send messages to business owners through their listings on the site. The idea is to have a way for people to send questions to businesses if they can’t find all the info they need on the Yelp listing itself. Yelp doesn’t want to have to send users elsewhere to find out what they need to know.

On listings, a link that says “Message the business” will appear under the phone number.

“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),” writes Yelp product manager Ely L. on the company’s blog. “For instance, whether a restaurant will be serving a special pre-fixe menu for Mother’s Day or what a spa charges for a manzilian very specific treatment for males.”

“While some customers prefer to pick up the phone, others would much rather communicate via a keyboard, 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,” adds Ely. “Biz owners will receive an email when they get a message from a consumer and can reply directly from that email without even having to log into their business owner’s account. When people click on the “message the business owner” button for a particular business, they’ll be shown the average response time to help them understand when, on average, they might get a response.”

The feature is rolling out to all businesses who have claimed their accounts. The feature can be disabled if you don’t want to get messages.

Yelp recently announced the addition of video reviews, which could go either way for businesses. If the company lives up to its filtering promises on those, it should be a mostly positive thing.

Last month, Yelp launched a new reservations tool to enable businesses to let customers book reservations online.

They also recently let businesses highlight Bitcoin acceptance.

Yelp is also expanding its Small Business Advisory Council, looking for input on products and new ideas for businesses right from business owners themselves. Presumably, we’ll be seeing more business-oriented features come from that.

Yelp says it has over 57 million local reviews across 27 countries.

Do you think Yelp is making moves that will actually help businesses? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Images via Yelp

Did Yelp Just Become Better For Businesses?
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