Transcription services: what sets professionals apart?
Choosing a professional transcription service can be a minefield. The number of online companies offering transcription is now huge and it can be a time-consuming task selecting one suited to your needs. This article, which could equally be called 'Pay peanuts - get monkeys', offers advice on the type of questions clients should be asking and the standards they should expect of any transcription service.
Search for 'transcription services', or variations thereof, on Google and it throws up thousands of results. Even if you narrow it down by searching for specialist services such as 'interview transcribing' or 'conference transcription', it still results in a large number of websites. So how should clients choose?
There are a number of factors which should be taken into account when assessing whether a company is suitable. Price alone should not govern your choice. A transcription company's answers to a number of questions should reveal the ones with a professional approach. Each subject is dealt with in more detail below but briefly, these questions can be summed up as:
have enough transcribers?
All the above should automatically form part of the service provided by transcription companies and be included in their price.
have enough transcribers?
does the transcribing?
A supplementary question should be: is the transcription outsourced and if so, where to? Is the standard of the outsourced transcriber of a high enough quality to provide the service you need? This may be a controversial area but if a recording is in English, we firmly believe the transcriber's mother tongue should also be English. If the recording is in Chinese, the transcriber's mother tongue should be Chinese, etc. For example, clients in the UK should think carefully whether the standard of transcript provided by overseas agencies can ever match the same high quality provided by English speakers. There could be a problem with accuracy when transcribing difficult accents, dialects and slang terms which can differ enormously from country to country. We've been asked by clients to correct transcripts completed abroad and some of the mistakes could have been catastrophic, for example, providing wrong medical details.
audio listened to a second time?
much time will the transcriber spend on research?
offer project management for large projects?
what else should clients expect from a professional transcriber?
If you approach a transcription company, it should soon become clear whether they know what they're talking about, and that they are offering you the correct level of service and that their promises are realistic. The schedule for professional transcribers tends to fill up fairly quickly, but this in itself should be an indication of the quality of their service (in the same way that a company which has lots of space at short notice should raise questions in a client's mind about the quality of their service). Clients should, if possible, think about booking a transcription service as early as they can, and preferably well in advance of a large project. Waiting until the project is completed and then trying to find an experienced transcriber at short notice could prove difficult. Most professional transcription companies have a long list of regular customers and suddenly finding a large block of free space at short notice may not be possible. So book your transcription company in advance, in the same way as you would the interviewees and venues. If you contact a transcription service in advance, they can offer advice on facilitating and recording your project. Transcribers have years of experience and know what works and what doesn't work to achieve a good recording - use that knowledge to make your job easier.
Clients obviously want a cost effective service, but we hope that professionalism, reliability and meticulous, accurate transcripts are equally important. If someone offers transcription services at a ridiculously cheap rate, it's unlikely they have much experience. We've heard numerous horror stories from clients who've used transcriptionists who charged a very low rate. Clients have received what amounts to nothing more than a draft transcript, with inappropriate punctuation or incorrect words, or they've had to wait several weeks for their transcripts. The client has then wasted time checking and correcting the transcripts themselves; so the cheap price ended up being a false economy.
To help you choose a transcriber, it may be worth examining other aspects of their business to help you make your choice. Look at the number of years they've been in business, not just the years they've worked in an office. Judge them on amount of time they've been running their own independent, self employed business. Check their confidentiality statement and their willingness to sign non-disclosure agreements. Ask them if they operate only during normal office hours or will they go that extra mile to cover your urgent evening or weekend transcripts? Transcription companies should offer a flexible service to meet the needs of their clients, not their own convenience.
look at their testimonial page on the website. If it isn't there, ask
yourself why and perhaps request past client contact information. If
there are testimonials, reflect on the quality of them, the range of
clients served and the content. The glowing ones will soon stand out
and in today's busy world, if a client has taken the time to compose
more than a standard sentence, then that should give you confidence
in the quality of the service on offer. In short, you get what you pay
for and cheapest doesn't necessarily mean best. If you approach a
professional business, you will receive a professional service.
specialise in digital transcription services including
MP3 digital transcription, WAV digital transcription,
WMA digital transcription among many other digital
audio file formats. We also provide standard audio
cassette tape transcription covering micro cassette
or micro tape transcription, plus mini tape or
mini cassette transcription which is also known as audio
transcription or audio typing services. This can be extended to include
minidisc or minidisk transcription services. Extensive
experience in conference transcription services
allows us to offer transcription of conference proceedings
including keynote speaker and plenary
session transcription, lecture transcription,
seminar and symposia transcribing, Q&A
session transcription and transcription of breakout
sessions, roadshows, roundtable discussions and workshops. Interview
transcription services form a core part of our service and include one-to-one
interview transcription, as well as multiple
participant interview transcription. We are pleased to offer discounted
transcription services for charities, students
and universities for their research
interviews, particularly qualitative analysis
transcription compatible with Nvivo and Atlas Ti. Support for oral
history interview transcription projects can include both digital
transcription services and audio tape transcription.
A niche specialty is our podcast transcription services
which also covers webcast transcription. Transcription
services for authors, writers and journalists can
include anything from digital dictation for article
transcription and manuscript typing through to
research interview transcription. Also offered is focus
group transcription, forum transcribing, market
research and vox pop interview transcription as well corporate
or group meeting transcription services. Word processing services and
digital dictation for correspondence is also included.
Teleconferences and telephone
interviews can be transcribed from digital and
analogue formats. Analogue video
tape transcriptions are offered along with digital
video transcription services. Different transcription styles are available
including Intelligent Verbatim Transcription,
Complete Verbatim Transcription, Edited
Transcription and customised transcription styles for Oral
History projects and Focus Groups.
We are pleased to offer free Advice Pages: Equipment FAQs Overview Transcription Times and free Guidelines for: Conferences Dictation Digital Audio / Minidiscs Focus Groups / Forums Interviews Lectures / Speeches / Presentations Market Research Vox Pops Oral History Interview Projects Podcasts Audio Tapes Teleconferences / Telephone Interviews Digital DVD / Video Tapes Webcasts Workshops Our Home Page provides an overview of the wide range of transcription services we provide.
|Copyright © Irene Boston 1998-2008 IB Transcription Services - All Rights Reserved. All contents of this website are protected under copyright law. No part of this website may be reproduced in any form, electronic or otherwise without written permission from IBTS. Any copyright breach will be reported to the relevant authorities.|