How to identify and avoid response bias in surveys

In order to run a successful business it is important to have a good understanding of how your customer thinks and feels about your product. Collecting feedback through surveys, is an excellent way to receive the data necessary to inform decisions. The problem is that unless a survey is structured correctly, it is possible that it will lead to inaccurate results.

A poorly crafted survey opens itself up to response bias, which causes survey participants to answer questions inaccurately. If survey bias does occur, you will likely misunderstand how your customers truly feel about your product. This means the time and money you put into delivering the survey was not well spent. There are many reasons why response bias might occur, such as if your survey contains leading questions, takes too much time to complete, or if the order of questions causes the participant to be influenced by the context of a previous question. Luckily, there are numerous ways to guard against response bias and soundly structured surveys.

When creating a survey that will give you accurate information about your customers, you will want to make sure to use easy to understand language, take the knowledge level of your audience into consideration, and provide additional information or explanation of terms whenever necessary.

You will also want to always provide customers with an out to questions. For example, if you want to know how much time the participant spends watching Netflix, make sure to include an answer along the lines of "I don't watch Netflix." Also, make sure to avoid leading customers to a particular answer. Customers may answer questions a certain way if they believe that's what you want them to do.

Another thing to keep in mind before sending off surveys to customers is potentially using a third-party surveying tool to do this for you. Since it's better to reveal as little information as possible about the intent of the survey, having a third-party administer the survey is an extra layer of protection. You might also consider using a response bias checklist to QA your survey questions before finalizing them.

The guide below from Chattermill offers further information on how to identify and avoid response bias in surveys in order to get more accurate customer data. 

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