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Transcription Services: What Makes the Experts Different?

On Google, typing “transcription services” or similar terms returns thousands of hits. Even if you focus your search by looking for specialized services like “conference transcription” or “interview transcription,” there are still a lot of websites returned. So how do customers make a decision?

When determining whether a company is fit, there are a number of things to consider. You shouldn’t base your decision solely on price. The transcription firm with the most professional responses to a variety of inquiries should be apparent. Each topic is covered in more detail below, but in a nutshell, these queries are as follows:

  • Are there enough transcriptionists?
  •  Who transcribes the material?
  •  Has the audio been played again?
  •  How much time will be devoted to research by the transcriber?
  •  Is the transcript edited for clarity?
  •  Does project management for substantial projects exist?

All of the aforementioned things ought to come standard with the service that transcribing businesses offer and be figured into their cost.

Are There Enough Transcribers Available?

Do they bite off more than they can chew, to put it another way? The restrictions caused by the lack of seasoned transcribers available to transcription services should be understood. Too frequently, businesses embark on big projects with quick turnaround times without checking to see if there are enough qualified transcribers on hand. As a result, clients receive hurried transcripts produced by a large number of external transcribers.

Minimizing inquiries will have taken very little effort, and there may have been no editing at all. There are times when a project won’t have been thoroughly reviewed because of the volume of content the transcription firm must handle. By accepting more transcription than they can handle, a transcriber risks compromising the quality of their work.

Who Performs the Transcription?

Only really skilled transcribers must be used. An audio typist with a few years’ worth of office experience is not qualified for the work of transcription services. Each transcriber should possess superior grammar and language abilities, exceptional accuracy and proofreading skills, and most importantly, the ability to “think” and recognize inconsistencies in the spoken word, spot contextual errors, feel comfortable with various accents and dialects, and be able to interpret voice inflections—all without changing the speaker’s original meaning or mannerisms.

Is the transcribing outsourced, and if so, where? should be a follow-up query. Is the outsourced transcriber’s standard of quality high enough to give the service you require? It may be debatable, but we firmly feel the transcriber’s mother tongue should be English if the tape is in English. The transcriber’s mother tongue should be Chinese if the recording is in Chinese, etc.

Customers in the UK, for instance, should carefully consider whether the caliber of transcripts offered by foreign agencies would ever be able to equal the same high quality offered by English speakers. When transcribing challenging accents, dialects, and slang phrases that might vary greatly from nation to country, accuracy issues may arise. Clients have asked us to fix transcripts that were done overseas; some of the errors, including giving incorrect medical information, may have had disastrous results.

Does the Audio Get Played Again?

All recordings, in our opinion, ought to be heard again when the transcript is finished. We’re not just talking about listening again while it’s being transcribed to clarify any unclear passages, but also listening to the entire tape from start to finish in comparison to the initial draft of the transcript. This is a great method to answer any questions and guarantee that the sense and context of the transcript as a whole are appropriately recorded. It’s frequently not until you listen to the phrases in their entirety that you can understand a speaker’s meaning and make certain that the sentences are broken up correctly. 

Incorrect punctuation or the incorrect placement of stress on words can completely affect the meaning. When transcribers listen to spoken words in short bursts while typing, they frequently overlook parts of these intonations, which can lead to an incorrect interpretation of a phrase. We think it’s crucial to listen again, even with clear recordings when transcribers can be very certain they’ve gotten everything correctly the first time. When taken in the context of the entire paragraph, words that were formerly perceived as plain may suddenly be heard differently.

It’s a pitfall that many inexperienced transcribers frequently fall into. An expert provider will be aware of this and need to automatically incorporate this additional inspection for customers without charging extra.

How Long Will the Transcriber’s Research Take?

Most recordings will contain names, locations, or language that a transcriber won’t necessarily be familiar with. To ensure a minimum of questions, each provider should be prepared to invest additional time verifying that these names and words are accurate. The time spent checking can be cut down if the customer offers a list of names or keywords, but transcribers should be providing this research as part of the service, again at no extra cost. Checking names, locations, keywords, or even terminology on Google is quite simple. 

However, it is evident that transcribers should be mindful of the dangers of merely consulting one or two online sources; as we are all aware, the veracity of various websites varies greatly. Every website used should come from a trustworthy source, and it should be reinforced by any reference materials that should already be in a transcriber’s office. When a client receives a transcript, they should know that all the names and language have been verified.

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