Yelp gets into the Lead Gen Game

Yelp announced today that they will be adding a feature to all claimed business Yelp pages which allows customers to contact a business directly through Yelp. Personally I feel that this adds another layer for a customer to contact the business. I am sure people will use it but am concerned that small businesses will have to keep their eye on yet another communication layer.
If you are a business owner this means you need to keep an eye out for Yelp notification emails as they may be potential clients:

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 the Business feature
The average response time feature is interesting but it seems like just posting a business’s email address would be more helpful for the customer.
The good news is that you can opt out of this feature if you want to. I am interested in seeing how it works out.
Yelp Press Release on Message the Business Feature