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Yelp Users are sending an average of 40,000 requests per day to Home Services providers as of June 2017

ICYMI, Yelp’s no longer just where you go to find the best burger in town (although we can still do that). What you may not have realized is that over the past few years, we’ve quietly helped millions of users find the best local service providers to tackle plumbing catastrophes, move to new homes, connect with the most trustworthy mechanic in their neighborhood, and beyond.

Since launching the ability to request a quote directly through Yelp, we’ve powered millions of searches for businesses that enable our Request a Quote (RAQ) feature. The best part of RAQ is that you can request up to 10 estimates with a single click, simplifying the initial research process. By studying the millions of interactions happening between customers and businesses on Yelp, we’ve continued to experiment and build new ways to connect you and your next plumber, mover or contractor more efficiently.

Today, we’re excited to share that these improvements are netting big results! Yelpers send an average of 40,000 quote requests per day. We’re also proud to say that businesses are loving RAQ — today, more than 80% of all requests are responded to within 24 hours.

To celebrate this milestone, we’re reflecting on what we’ve recently introduced and announcing a few new features that are helping to make connecting with a business more transparent and efficient.

A few recent improvements we’re particularly proud of

Photos: You can now add a photo to any request you’re sending to help better communicate what you’re looking for. This makes the initial quote process more efficient and accurate – saving you and your local experts time!

Real-time chat: We’ve redesigned the chat function so that you can message with a business in real-time and get your clogged drain fixed pronto! We’ve added messenger chat bubbles that appear in real-time and added a three-dot indicator that appear next to a user’s chat bubble when they’re typing.

A look at what’s new

Artificial intelligence is a critical force behind the success of Request a Quote. Our powerful machine learning algorithms crunch and contextualize the massive amounts of data on Yelp – including reviews, photos, business page details, and more – to match you and the local businesses that can best fulfill your request.

Real-time improvements to search results through machine learning: As you type the details of your project into the Request a Quote form, our machine learning algorithms contextualize and process what’s typed, in real-time, and will automatically refresh the “additional businesses” recommendations to match the specific needs of your request.

Imagine that you’re filling out a request for a mover. You live in San Francisco, CA and are looking for a company to move all of your furniture to your new apartment in Seattle, WA. As you begin to clarify your end destination in the request form, we deploy machine learning to recognize the new information and update the recommended businesses in real-time, removing any San Francisco moving companies who only do in-state moving, for example.

This ensures that your request is only sent to businesses who can fulfill your request and eliminates the initial weeding-out process.

Improving our data with Service Editor: While machine learning is powering user searches, it’s important to remember that a machine is only as good as the data. We’re lucky to have incredibly rich, detailed data from millions of Yelp reviews, photos and business owner pages but we know how important it is to get these recommendations right. To improve the accuracy of the data we have on local businesses in the Home Services category, and better match your requests with a business, we’re introducing Service Editor.

With Service Editor, businesses within a certain category, like Auto Repair, will be able to select their specialties from a core set of capabilities specific to that industry. We’re rolling this out with Auto Repair and plan to introduce tailored Service Editor tools for additional categories. By giving businesses the power to specify what kinds of services they offer (i.e. tire replacement v.s. body work), we can continue to more accurately match user requests with local businesses.

So next time murky water comes bubbling back up the drain or your car starts making that “glug, blug, glub…” sound, we’re here to help you find the right solution…and fast. If you haven’t already, check out these new updates on web, iOS, and Android.

Featured image curtesy of Spotless Cleaning Services.