Yelp is that less-than-perfect place where people go to find eateries nearby, look up basic info, and take absurdly long reviews with a tiny grain of salt. Two-way conversations on the site are rare, and often take the form of personal rants, never to be addressed by the business in question.


But that’s about to change. Yelp today announced that users can now contact businesses directly through the network.

If you reach out to a businesses, they’ll receive an email with your message, and can reply directly to that email without having to log in. The messaging feature will also show you the average response time for any business, a common feature on sites like Airbnb.

More, from Yelp’s blog post:

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. 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.

Yelp -- message businesses

Businesses can opt out of the feature by disabling it on their Yelp profile. We expect this to happen a lot, as every other social network already serves as a customer help line for business owners.

Yelp says it is rolling out the new feature to all businesses who have claimed a “business owner account.”