Google Customer reviews – When 25 divided by 5 does not equal 5

Google Customer Review score calculation

One of the things that I believe sets me apart from other wedding photographers is my total passion for customer service, and I am therefore very proud of my 100% record of 5 star Google reviews left by my very happy and lovely clients. Imagine my horror when I noticed that despite my all-5 star reviews, my overall Google rating is currently 4.9 and not 5.0!

I contacted Google Business support using their live chat facility, and asked them to explain their mathematical error. I received a very vague response suggesting that Google takes into account the source and content of the reviews in addition to the actual rating given. This only served to confuse me further as I couldn’t understand how Google could make such judgements. I am acutely aware that Google has so many business pages and reviews submitted that they don’t have the resources to make individual assessments regarding the quality of reviews. I left the chat session with Google and decided to perform my own research.

The irony of me using Google to conduct my online quest for answers was not lost on me. My research immediately revealed that this is a common occurrence, and many other people have been asking the same question ‘Do Google need a lesson in basic maths?’.
Of course the reason why I am scoring 4.9 is not due to a mathematical error on behalf of Google. Google use an algorithm to produce an overall score that takes into account the number of reviews the business has, possibly using something called a ‘Bayesian average‘ (We all know what that is right? No, me neither!)

Put in simple terms, what Google are doing is in effect penalising small businesses who have a comparatively small number of customer reviews, and estimating what the overall score MIGHT be IF the business had more reviews. This would be more palatable if Google were more transparent about the scoring process, as potential clients will have no awareness of applying ‘Bayesian average’, and potentially arrive at the conclusion that there must be a ‘hidden’ 4 star review somewhere.

So, if you are a previous client of mine reading this article, please be super-amazing and spend 5 minutes writing a review for me! If you are a potential client, then don’t be put off by my 4.8 rating – read the lovely 5 star reviews and be assured that my photography skills and customer care are second to none.