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How to Get Honest Feedback and Survey Responses

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Feedback is important. It allows you to gauge how people feel in regards to your products, services, leadership in business, and much more! But there just so happens to be a particularly important type of feedback that you need to focus on: honest feedback.

The truth is, people avoid providing honest feedback for a number of reasons. And while it might be great that they’re providing any feedback at all, it really defeats the purpose when it doesn’t include their truth.

Why Would Anyone Lie on a Survey?

So, why might people be dishonest when it comes to answering surveys? Here are a few reasons:

  • They’re providing socially-desirable answers
  • They want to improve their feelings of self-worth
  • They’re concerned about anonymity
  • They feel defensive about a sensitive topic
  • They simply want to be polite
  • They would like an incentive to provide honest feedback

Getting Honest Feedback

Rather than focusing on why someone participating in a survey may lie, let’s focus on how to get honest feedback from them instead! We’ve put together our top tips for getting the most accurate and honest responses from your surveys.

Put an emphasis on research

When participants aren’t sure of the reason why they might be asked to participate in a survey, it makes them a lot more hesitant to answer honestly. Instead of keeping this information to yourself, let them know why they’re being asked to answer your survey or even how it might be a benefit to them.

The more they realize they care about your product or service, the more likely they’re to answer honestly. If you’re conducting research, make it known that their contributions will help to make your product or service even better.

Stay away from leading questions

Leading questions are questions that persuade someone to some sort of conclusion. Whether they intentionally do so or not, these types of questions can give off the impression that you are trying to persuade someone to answer a certain way. Definitely a turn off for when it comes to providing honesty.

Think about any “trigger” questions

It’s important to give special thought to any questions that may be triggering to your audience. These are the types of questions that may give your participants a reason to lie.

These questions are often ones that relate to beliefs, behaviour or belonging. And while it’s definitely not possible to avoid asking questions that relate to these areas at times, it’s important to consider how you word them. Think carefully about what your audience will respond most positively to.

Be prompt with asking questions

If you wait too long after an interaction with your participants it will be more difficult for them to truly remember what their experience was like. In this case your audience isn’t necessarily dishonest – they just don’t remember.

Be prompt with providing your survey questions and even try to conduct them in the moment when you can. The sooner you can get their thoughts on something, the more likely they’re to be accurate and honest in their answers.

Include redundant questions for honest feedback

If someone is lying in their survey, you can catch them with redundant questions or misleading answers. Say you want to know if the respondent is aware of some of your competitors. You might add a competitor to the list that isn’t real. If they end up selecting that answer, then it’s likely their other answers aren’t entirely honest as well.

Redundant questions can be asked to slightly modify the question and response. If you compare them and the answer to each is entirely different then it’s likely your respondent isn’t providing honest feedback.

Avoid offering incentives

This one may come as a surprise, but it’s common for participants to lie just to get a reward at the end of it. You’ll have to use your expertise to determine when it’s best to use, or not use an incentive, but honesty is definitely a factor to consider.

Should you decide survey incentives are the answer to your response rates, be sure to try these five incentives to boost response rates.

Try going online

Sometimes the medium can make all the difference in getting honest feedback. Some people will feel hesitant when it comes to an in-person or over the phone survey, which can impact their truthfulness.

When they have a screen to hide behind, they may be more inclined to answer honestly. You might consider making your survey anonymous to help them feel secure.

You can learn more about how and why it’s time to start collecting anonymous data here.

Now that you know how to get honest feedback, it’s time to start. Lying is inevitable when it comes to surveys, but with these tips you’ll be on the right track to getting more and more honest feedback!

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