Keeping your small business open could mean tweaking your COVID-19 safety practices. Yelp is adding to their COVID-19 Section. They are adding customer observations on social distancing and mask wearing. There are also new content guidelines protecting businesses from unfair reviews. And new health and safety measures.
The section already lets SMBs inform customers about their ongoing health and safety efforts.
Small Business Trends contacted Akhil Kuduvalli Ramesh, Head of Consumer Product at Yelp, to learn more about the new changes.
Yelp COVID Safety Features for Business Owners
He supplied some history.
“In March, Yelp introduced a COVID-19 banner alert at the top of the business pages,” he writes. “It had a customizable message to customers. The banner quickly evolved into a new COVID-19 section. It covered a business’s current service offerings.”
These included options like sit-down dining, outdoor seating, in-person visits, virtual services, curbside pickup and delivery options.
As the pandemic wore on, the process was refined.
Enforcing Social Distancing
“In June, we released health and safety measures for businesses. They could report on enforcing social distancing, requiring temperature checks, supplying masks, supplying hand sanitizer and more.”
The latest changes engage customers. Kuduvalli Ramesh explains:
“We will start displaying user feedback in the COVID 19 Section. That will help users understand the safety practices a business is or isn’t using.”
The new section focuses on social distancing efforts. And whether a small business requires employees to wear masks. This new input builds on an existing user feedback format Yelp uses. That gauges whether a business meets other categories like “kid friendly” or “great for groups.”
There are a few other services being added.
“We’re adding new service offerings and health and safety measures. These have become more important ,” Kuduvalli Ramesh says. “These will allow businesses to share updates on how they’ve shifted and evolved their operations.”
Some of the new boxes businesses can check to demonstrate their COVID 19 preparations include:
- Staff checked for symptoms (available to all businesses)
- Disposable or contactless menu (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
- Heated outdoor seating (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
- Covered outdoor seating (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
- Indoor dining (available to restaurants, bars, and nightlife)
- Private dining (available to restaurants)
- DIY meal kits (available to restaurants)
- Outdoor services (available to fitness and beauty businesses)
- One on One sessions available (available to fitness businesses)
- Limited group sessions available (available to fitness businesses)
Yelp has also focused on how they handle and publish business reviews. The new guidelines take into account the current environment.
“We’re encouraging users to be thoughtful in their reviews,” Kuduvalli Ramesh says.
They added some tips in July. Now they’ve taken the suggestions one step further by providing ghost text. These pop up in the text box with positive ideas as users write reviews .
It’s a good way to remind everyone how many businesses are struggling.
There is also a one-time pop up .
“We want users to know many businesses are doing their best during COVID-19,” Kuduvalli Ramesh says. “And that we appreciate them taking this into consideration if things didn’t go as planned.”
The new service offerings and health and safety measures are available in your Yelp for Business account.
More in: Coronavirus Biz Advice