Business directory and crowdsourced review forum Yelp said Tuesday that it will begin displaying feedback collected from its users on business pages on those businesses’ health and safety practices during the pandemic.
Yelp said the initiative will kick off with “social distancing enforced” and “staff wears masks,” as those are the health and safety precautions that can most easily be observed by customers.
The company added in a statement, “Similar to how users can provide Yelp with feedback on whether a business is ‘kid-friendly’ or ‘great for groups,’ we’re now reflecting our users’ observations about businesses’ safety practices during the pandemic.”
Yelp revamped the Covid-19 section on business pages in June to enable those businesses to provide more information about their updated service offerings, as well as health and safety precautions, and the platform saw consumer interest in businesses that added those updates to their pages rise 41% between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.
Head of consumer product Akhil Kuduvalli Ramesh told Adweek, “We approached new product features and updates related to Covid-19 in three phases. The first focused on ensuring that the most critical information was available to consumers and providing businesses with a way to directly communicate with the people visiting their business page. This included: ensuring that we had updated hours and consumers knew that information was accurate with a timestamp; releasing a personalized banner alert on business pages so that businesses could let people know how and if they were operating; and releasing current services attributes for businesses to indicate in the Covid-19 section of their page, such as outdoor dining, virtual services, in premise available, etc.”
He added, “The second phase focused on making sure that people felt safe revisiting businesses again, which is when we released the health and safety properties for businesses to indicate on their pages, as well as new features for restaurants within our Waitlist product to help easily manage capacity.”
Yelp outlined the criteria it put in place to ensure that businesses were fairly represented and could not be unfairly tarnished by the opinions of a single customer:
Ramesh said, “In order to confidently and fairly display a sliding scale of what consumers are observing at a business, we had to first ensure that we had enough data that formed a consensus among users on whether a business may or may not be consistently enforcing social distancing or requiring employees to wear masks. By collecting this data over the course of the past few months, we are able to create a meaningful system that ensures that the feedback we receive is fairly represented, keeps the information fresh and is not based on any one person’s observation. On top of that, we have also implemented advanced technology to mitigate potential misuse of the feature.”
Yelp said that it will display a green check mark next to “Social distancing enforced according to most users” and “Staff wears masks according to most users” when the majority of responses indicated that this is the case.
If the reverse is true, orange question marks will be displayed adjacent to “Social distancing might not be enforced according to most users” and “Staff might not wear masks according to most users.”