As a part of COVID related product announcements, Google announced virtual services as a part of their GMB accounts. Many businesses received a prompt to set up a video. Many merchants also saw features to set up virtual services and add links for booking online. Google aims to help merchants easily get started with video conferencing providers so they can begin offering virtual services. Addition of these features will not change anything that is already displayed on the Business Profile.
The announcement also contained a number of initiatives that are designed to support small businesses during COVID 19 and help them pivot to online services. The video button for example is for virtual appointments and online classes. New business attributes such as online classes, online appointments and online estimates have also been added.
Further, Google also explained that the Reserve with Google program was being expanded beyond in-person appointments to online services and classes. Working with a Reserve with Google partner is necessary to enable the scheduling functionality.
It is however not clear whether a business would be able to offer virtual consultations outside of a Reserve with Google partner relationship. Right now it appears that booking relationship is required and it may be that any sales consultation would need to be booked through the same schedulting functionality offered for conventional appointments and online classes.
Google also has provided information on how to share details with customers and how to pay and join the meeting using the preferred video platform. It is unclear however whether these virtual classes or meetings would be streamed directly on the GMB profile.
The Coronavirus crisis has made many people still wary of gathering in indoor public places and resuming regular routines. Virtual classes and online services still remain a lifeline for many businesses. Such services introduced by Google will represent a shift in how small business deliver services going forward.
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