Many find it frustrating to try communicating with local businesses. Their often inadequate phone answering ability means getting put on hold, being forced to leave a message, or dealing with general confusion.

TalkTo aims to fix that. It is a mobile program and service that allows users to send local businesses SMS text messages to any local business in the TalkTo directory. TalkTo will make sure that the business sees and responds to each message. TalkTo users can ask questions of a business, give feedback about their service, or make appointments with them through the ease and convenience of ordinary text messaging.

What makes the service truly intriguing is that it can be used with any business that TalkTo is aware of. The business does not have to be in contact with TalkTo in order to receive the message. Rather, TalkTo uses a call center that receives the user’s message and then immediately notifies the business about it, ensuring that the consumer receives a response from the business.

However, TalkTo’s long-term goal is for as many businesses as possible to engage directly with their service, making the process of receiving customer feedback completely seamless and directed by the business itself.

A common use case for TalkTo is seeing how long the wait at a restaurant is. Before, this would require looking up the business oneself, calling, and hoping against hope that a busy restaurant would bother answering its phone. With the free TalkTo iOS app, one would simply find the business in TalkTo’s directory and send a text requesting the current wait time. If the restaurant is hooked into TalkTo’s platform, it will receive the call and respond immediately. If it is not, TalkTo will use its call center to contact the restaurant and the call center will respond to your question as soon as possible.

It is possible to see through TalkTo’s directory which businesses are directly in contact with them and which would need to go through the call center. This means that it is easy to see which business would give one the quickest answer. This is a powerful motivation for businesses to join TalkTo’s service, as they will not want to lose business to a competitor who is using the service.

TalkTo seems to be a natural way to get information from a local business. It may represent a new chapter in business-consumer communication.

About the Author: Marc McDermott is the Online Marketing Manager at Merchant Express, a provider of merchant services and payment processing technologies with a specialized approach to merchant credit card processing, merchant bankcard processing and transaction processing services.