There is no playbook for a pandemic. Most companies are taking things one day at a time and adapting as needed, based on guidance from the CDC, WHO or local government. But online review sites are struggling with a new issue that they haven’t dealt with before. What do you do with negative reviews that penalize businesses during this unprecedented time for factors that they can’t control?
Businesses won’t have to worry too much about Google reviews since Google has made the decision to suspend reviews, review responses, and Q&A until further notice. In a notice posted to Google Help portal, Google states, “During the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, we are taking steps to protect the health of our team members and reduce the need for people to come into our offices. As a result, there may be some temporary limitations and delays in support as we prioritize critical services.”
While Google prioritizes critical health-related businesses, there will be a delay for other businesses. Google states, “While we prioritize these critical services, please expect a delay for publication of new listings, claims, and verifications for other types of businesses to Google Search and Maps.”
Another review site, Yelp, announced its COVID-19 policy, which aims to help ‘those hit hardest by the impact of this pandemic’, local businesses. In addition to a $25M fund to help businesses with ad credits, Yelp will help protect the reputation of businesses by not publishing negative reviews referring to COVID-19. Jeremy Koppelman, Yelp’s Co-founder and CEO states, “We have zero tolerance for any claims in reviews of contracting COVID-19 from a business or its employees, or negative reviews about a business being closed during what would be their regular open hours in normal circumstances.”
We are still waiting to see how other review sites handle reviews during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because many OTAs are likely dealing with office closures, customer cancellations and stranded customers, they likely haven’t yet put a policy in place. It’s clear from reviews on TripAdvisor, for example, that it’s still business as usual.
The reviews not responded to will show up as "no response by management" on the Revinate platform.
We will keep you updated as things change. In the meantime, check out our Covid-19 resource center.