Yelp Works To Cash In On AI

Delta Air Lines, Nike, Starbucks, Netflix and many other brands use artificial intelligence (AI) assistants to interact with consumers, but through the technology Yelp believes it can drive more demand for  businesses that list on its platform.

It's the beginning of a broader interaction between companies, brands and consumers -- a change in the way consumers ask for information in chunks rather than in snippets. 

Yelp has been working to find a way to create a unique experience to keep pace with search engines that are attempting to offer the same type of information and services.

And as Yelp reminds users, it's more than a place to find the best and highest-rated restaurants.

Its newly launched OpenAI-powered Yelp Assistant can find service providers in a specific area and write requests for jobs including home upgrades and event planning.



Yelp Assistant is powered by data and large language models (LLMs). From prompts, it understands the users’ project or problem and intelligently guides them through the process of finding the right professional for the job.

The introduction of the tool marks a significant step in automation through a conversational and intuitive way for consumers to connect with and hire local service professionals.

Consumers can chat with Yelp Assistant the same way they would with a human professional. And once it has the information a professional would need to evaluate the job, it provides a query for the job that the user can approve to get matched with qualified businesses to complete the project.

If someone needs a shower installed, the chatbot will ask questions like what type of stall or faucet and showerhead. It might suggest a couple of nearby installers or brands.

The assistant -- available in the iOS versions of its mobile app -- also works with other services on Yelp, such as searching for a massage therapist, pet care, real estate, or financial services. The company said it will release a version for Android this summer.

The company said it can help the consumer find the specific type of business to help with any job. And I cannot help but wonder if an AI assistant can remove the ambiguity that customer service reps sometimes create because they are required by a company to follow specific scripted words and phrases to support clients.

Responses are typically pulled from data on a company’s website, so I’m wondering whether an AI assistant could prevent misunderstandings or misconstrued procedures that might create many hours of frustration. Like the time I had to get a front infrared camera lens on my car replaced after it had been shattered by a rock from the road.

Ambiguity in the way the insurance rep described the process of getting the camera replaced caused about a month of frustration and a lot of out-of-pocket expenses. The insurance company required the car to be fixed through an “authorized” Porsche dealer, but they listed none on their website. It turns out authorized Porsche dealers were only available through third-party contractors that could buy and install the camera, but not calibrate it, so they had to send it to the dealer to complete the job.

In addition to Yelp Assistant, the company updated the Yelp Fusion AI API, which connects Yelp’s data to third-party platforms.

Previously, it just connected user reviews and data, but now it allows partner companies to integrate natural language search of Yelp’s database. It supports only single question-and-answer conversations, but Yelp says a longer conversation string will become available later this year. 

Through the Yelp Fusion API, the AI search platform Perplexity has added Yelp’s content to its search results.

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