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updated 6/18/2014 6:45:52 PM ET 2014-06-18T22:45:52

With a just-announced direct messaging feature, Yelp is aiming to make communication between business owners and customers even more seamless.

For specific inquiries unlikely to appear on general listings -- or for when customers simply don’t feel like picking up the phone -- users can now click on a link appearing beneath each claimed company’s contact information to compose an instant message.

Business owners receive these messages as emails but can respond directly without having to log in to their Yelp accounts, the company explained in a blog post.

Related: Facebook Lets Restaurants Post Menus to Pages; Yelp Announces New Video Feature

Upon sending a message, consumers will be notified of each business’ average response time.

Though the feature bypasses in-person interaction, one business owner found that it actually increased contact. “It almost always leads to further correspondence or a phone conversation,” said Wade Lombard, founder of Square Cow Movers in Austin, Texas.

The feature is optional for businesses and can be disabled, Yelp said.

Related: Yelp Now Points Users to Businesses That Accept Bitcoin as Payment

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