What is Response Bias?

Response bias is our human tendency to self-report inaccurate (or even totally false) answers to survey questions.

Response Bias

It doesn’t matter if it’s intentional or accidental—if humans are inaccurately reporting on their experiences, this false information can negatively affect the data gathered from your survey. Unfortunately, if you aren’t getting accurate data from your surveys because of response bias, you can’t rely on it to improve experiences for your customers and employees. 

Creating and executing the perfect survey can be tricky business. To be successful, you’ve got to watch out for sampling bias, framing bias, and most importantly, response bias. Don’t worry—we’re here to help! Check out this page for all you need to know on response bias: what it is, how to avoid it, and how InMoment is here to help.

What Types of Response Biases Should CX Practitioners Look Out For? 

According to the experts, there are LOTS of response biases. Here is an overview of the six major types of response biases and an example of each.

  • Social response bias: This happens when survey respondents overreport on good behaviors and under-report on bad behaviors. Think about it this way—few people will admit they eat 5-6 bars of chocolate per week, so respondents will tend to under-report their chocolate consumption, skewing the data in the process.
  • Non-response bias: This happens when a survey sample isn’t representative of the target population. Imagine you’re trying to survey customers who attended a grand-opening via email. But, half of the surveys went to the attendees spam folder. So, the responses you receive only represent half of the attendees. 
  • Hostility bias: When you ask survey respondents about unpleasant memories or negative experiences, the responses might become hostile. An example of this is asking emergency room hospital patients how their experience was—they might only remember their pain and suffering.
  • Satisficing: Respondents who display this form of response bias are likely to leave questions unanswered or to answer dishonestly. These types of customers are trying to satisfy the task of completing the survey, and typically rushing through questions, instead of carefully reflecting on their experiences and providing valuable feedback. 
  • Recency bias: This is a psychological phenomenon of simply picking the answer the respondent reads—one of the reasons why it’s so important to randomise choices.
  • Wording bias: When it comes to surveys, wording matters. Even something as simple as greeting a customer by name can psychologically influence their responses—they might assume someone is personally reading the survey, and be less likely to provide honest feedback

How Can CX Leaders Reduce Response Bias?

Now, let’s take a break down some ideas for reducing response bias. Here are some tips from our InMoment experts:

  1. Understand Your Demographic. This should be the first exercise your brand takes on when designing a survey. Ask yourself who are you surveying, what kind of information are you looking for, and what might be some of the obstacles in the way of an accurate data set. Of course, we recommend running this workshop with an expert in human behaviour to make sure you have all your bases covered! 
  2. Diversify Questions. No one likes to fill out a repetitive survey— change up the questions and the formats to keep your respondents engaged. You can swap between a mix of binary response questions (yes or no) with those that offer a range of responses with check boxes, which will keep the participants’ brains focused on the task at hand instead of zoning out.
  3. Allow Participants to Say “No.” This is a simple, yet powerful solution to ensure you’re getting accurate data. Allowing participants the power to say “no” or “I’m not sure,” will help you avoid those respondents who don’t have insightful commentary on this particular question.
  4. Avoid Question-Wording Bias. The best way to avoid this type of bias is to balance the response options between an equal amount of positive and negative options. If you ask a survey respondent a question like, “It’s ok to eat ice cream once a week, right?” This will surely solicit a skewed and biased response.
  5. Avoid Emotionally Charged Terms. Ideally, surveys are designed with neutral language wherever possible. Adding in active verbs like “smash” or “brutalised” are sure to elicit an emotional response from a participant. 

The InMoment Solution to Response Bias

Response bias can seem overwhelming, but at InMoment, we’re here to help! We believe the best experience programs are a combination of best-in-class technology + human expertise. And at InMoment, we’ve got both of these covered:

Solution #1: Take Advantage of InMoment’s Best-In-Class Tech

InMoment’s Experience Improvement (XI) Platform is made up of a series of applications to help you design the perfect survey and come up with results that help your business actually improve experiences for customers and employees.

Specifically, InMoment’s patented, AI-powered Active Listening Studio is used to, well, actively listen to survey respondents when they are filling in their answers. The application is designed to encourage rich conversations by listening and responding to customers in real time, eliciting not only more, but more valuable responses. One example of this is prompting the respondent to “share more.” For instance, if the question is, “tell me about your experience in-store today,” you can set up parameters and triggers in the Active Listening Studio to ensure the customer provides feedback of 200+ characters.

Wondering what kind of results InMoment clients have seen? Using the Active Listening Studio to revamp its listening, a leading global retailer increased survey response rates by 37% and response length by 38%. This meant more and better customer-sourced guidance for every department across the organisation.

Solution #2: Leverage InMoment’s Human Expertise

At this stage in the customer experience landscape, we can’t solve problems using technology alone. True innovation often requires a human touch. 

InMoment is made up of lots of people, and some of those are data science experts. Yes, we’re experts in CX, EX, and MX, but more importantly—we’re experts in human behaviour. Our data scientist- and PhD-led Strategic Insights team are the best in the business when it comes to helping our clients design and execute surveys without response bias. Don’t take our word for it though! In a recent Forrester Wave report, InMoment was classified as a leader!

Response Bias: A Recap

When it comes to surveys, customer experience practitioners should avoid response bias at all costs. And there are so many types to look out for! Whether it’s hostility bias, recency bias, or non-response bias, all types of bias can skew your data set and affect your overall experience improvement goals. The end result of a survey without response bias is: cleaner data, more accurate insights, and a clearer picture of how to improve experiences for customers and employees. 

InMoment is here to help you every step of the way with our award-winning combination of best-in-class technology and experts in data science and human behavior. 

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InMoment’s integrated CX approach increases customer lifetime value and bottom line performance in just 12 months, significantly faster than the industry average of 25 months!

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