The COVID-19 virus has created a lot of upheaval for many businesses. Restaurants are having to convert to strictly carry-out methods, stores are facing empty shelves and high demand for products like toilet paper and bread, and scores of employees are now working from home.
Instead of being understanding and flexible, customers are upset and are sharing their anger in the form of reviews. There’s been a spike in negative business reviews as customers complain about shops being short-staffed or closed when they’re normally open.
Because of COVID-19, Google has recognized that businesses may be vulnerable to bad reviews and misleading information. Google itself is short-staffed. An official notice said the company is “taking steps to protect the health of our team members and reduce the need for people to come into our offices.”
Customers can still write business reviews. However, the reviews aren’t being published at the moment. Instead, the reviews will be saved by Google. Those with Google My Business access can see the reviews written about their company, the reviews are just not yet available to the public.
As a result of Google’s staff shortage, the company also isn’t accepting responses to reviews. This is temporary but can affect those wanting to immediately reply to a comment.
Individuals wanting to update or change their Google My Business listings may also face delays unless they’re in a health-related field, in which case their reviews are listed as a priority.
“We will also prioritize reviews for open and closed states, special hours, temporary closures, business descriptions and business attributes edits for other verified businesses,” stated Google. New listings for critical health-related businesses will be prioritized.
Yelp is likewise making changes to its review procedures in response to COVID-19. The company said their updated review guidelines “protect local businesses from reputational harm related to these extraordinary circumstances.”
For example, Yelp will not permit reviews that claim COVID-19 was contracted from a business or employees or “negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances.”