Google Maps could help your business avoid angry late-night customers

Female customer paying through smart phone to smiling saleswoman at store
(Image credit: Maskot via Getty Images)

Making sure your business' online details are accurate is set to get a lot easier thanks to an upgrade to Google Maps.

The company has outlined how it is using AI to spot any errors or issues with business listings on Maps, particularly concerning opening hours.

Google says its platform brings together information from several Maps and AI tools to predict what business hours are for most companies, and update the information accordingly, making sure potential customers aren't left lacking the details they need.

Google Maps AI

"Over the past few years, businesses have experienced a lot of change — including constantly updating operating hours based on changing pandemic-related restrictions," Google Maps product managers Liam Bolling and Kristi Bohl wrote in a blog post (opens in new tab)

"To keep up with this pace of change, we developed a machine learning model that automatically identifies if business hours are likely wrong, then instantly updates them with AI-generated predictions."

Along with the AI model, Google Maps also looks at when a business profile was last updated, meaning it's important to make sure your company stays on top of any changes. The platform also looks at the hours of other shops nearby, as well as noting the Popular Times data for the business in question. 

Popular Times pulls in anonymized data from users who have opted in to Google Location History to build up a profile of when a business is particularly busy, as well as offering predictions on wait times or the length of time a customer stays in a shop.

If it spots any anomalies - for example, the most popular shopping hours being around 1pm, despite a business saying it doesn't open until 5pm - then Google Maps will update opening hours accordingly.

Elsewhere, the other tools Google Maps uses range from the the obvious (checking the information on a shop's official website) to using Google Street View to spot an opening hours sign in the window. In addition, the company can also call on its local Google Maps community in certain countries to add in their expertise and verify any changes, or as a last resort, use its AI-powered Duplex conversational technology to actually call the store and ask.

"With this new AI-first approach, we’re on track to update the hours for over 20 million businesses around the globe in the next six months - helping you know exactly when your favorite store, restaurant or cafe is open for business ," Bolling and Bohl note.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.