Yelp Launches Request a Call to Connect Local Service Providers and Customers

Yelp announced this morning Request a Call, a feature that will allow customers to easily submit a request for a call to local service providers. The feature represents Yelp’s acknowledgement that there is still too much friction in the local services customer experience and that listings and review sites can help.

“Many services jobs like home renovations or event planning can be complicated to describe and hard to quote via messaging due to the varying needs of consumers, as well as costs of materials, labor, and time,” Yelp said in a precirculated blog post. “In many instances, calling the business directly might not be the best way to quickly schedule a service professional for your job, since service businesses, especially small independent pros, often can’t answer the phone at all times.”

Yelp went on to note that, according to internal research, “40% of consumer calls to services businesses are under 30 seconds long, which indicates that they either weren’t picked up or didn’t result in meaningful conversation.” The automated Request a Call feature allows consumers to quickly get in touch with local service providers and a get call from them when it is convenient so that nobody waits on the line without getting an answer.

What’s the big picture for local service discovery?

Google and Yelp have been building out differentiated verticalized local ad products and customer experience features for years in bids to streamline customer interactions with nearby businesses and transform themselves into destinations for action, not just information gathering.

One interesting point here is Google and Yelp’s displacement of business websites. Localized digital marketing experts widely agree the arrival of features like Request a Call does not mean websites have ceased being important for local businesses. But the customer journey does increasingly start and stop on third-party platforms like Google and Yelp, raising the stakes for coordinating listings and clarifying information across properties.

Another angle here is the ongoing rivalry between Google, the market leader, and Yelp, which is increasingly seen as more of a destination for foodies and others who want to leave and read longer, more thoughtful reviews. The pressure between competitors to roll out verticalized solutions could redound to the benefit of local businesses, who are getting more frictionless ways to engage consumers.

And that is perhaps the final note for this story: the increasing removal of friction from the customer experience. The pandemic raised the bar for literally frictionless localized customer experiences. Yelp’s Request a Call marks another small step among many by localized digital marketing providers to further that absence of friction between local and multi-location businesses and their customers.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015 and regularly consults with companies in the space on content and communications. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.