Have you been considering transcription services for your business? You can’t choose any transcription service you find on the internet, as trusting anyone with your company’s data is a giant leap. You must ensure they follow the proper security measures, offer high accuracy rates, and reasonable prices.
If you don’t have much experience with transcription providers, it can be challenging to know if the provider is good or if they are going to cost you more time and money than necessary.
This article explains what to expect and what to look for from your new business transcription provider, because we know that choosing the best business transcription service for your needs can be very confusing.
Table of Contents
- How do Business Transcription Services Work?
- Why Choose Human over AI Transcription for Your Needs
- The Top Business Transcription Use Cases
- What Can Your Transcripts Look Like?
- What Requirements Should Your Transcriptionist Have?
- Hidden Costs When Sending Transcription Work Overseas
- Security to Consider for Your Business Transcription
- The Cost and Turnaround Time for Business Transcription Services
- A Checklist for Your Business Transcription Needs
- Business Transcription Provider Requirements Downloadable PDF
How do business transcription services work?
To choose the best business transcription provider, you must know what the provider does with your files. The process a transcript goes through from when you send your files to the provider to when you receive your files back is straightforward . There are, however, a few steps involved to make sure the quality of your document meets your expectations.
Step 1: The audio is recorded in business meetings, interviews, customer service calls, etc. using a handheld digital recorder, toll-free call-in phone system, or an iPhone app for good quality.
Most transcription companies can accept audio and video files in a wide variety of formats. It’s best to check with your prospective provider if they can accept your specific format, especially if it is not a widely used medium. Likewise, always tell them the dates you require your files back.
The transcriptionist will then listen to the file and type exactly what they hear.
Step 2: Another person reviews the document after the initial transcriptionist finishes it if needed. Not every file we transcribe will require QA(Quality Assurance). At Transcription Outsourcing LLC, we send our completed transcripts to our QA team for a thorough proofread when needed. This step is crucial for the grammatical integrity and accuracy of the document when anything is not clear enough to say for sure without a second set of ears.
Step 3: Once everything is proofread and double-checked, the transcription provider sends the document back to you. It can be returned in various digital versions instead of on paper if you prefer. The document will most likely be archived in case you need it again in the future.
That’s it! The advantage of a straightforward process is that it allows for fast turnaround times.
Do all types of transcription follow the same steps?
The steps for each type of transcription are generally the same; however, each transcription type requires more attention in different areas. For example, medical transcription focuses heavily on medical terminology, so the transcriptionist needs the appropriate training. On the other hand, financial and business transcription deals with numbers and language relevant to the industry. The transcriptionist must have strong listening skills and often spend time researching terms and acronyms to make sure they are accurate.
Are all business transcription services the same?
No, they are not all the same. You can choose AI, human, and overseas transcription. The most apparent difference between them is quality, cost, and usefulness.
Why choose human over AI or voice recognition transcription for business transcription services
AI or voice recognition transcription has been growing in its users every month. It’s a handy way for students and professionals to record personal notes or make recordings in quiet environments with a simple conversation and no more than two people. You will need to do a lot of editing though with AI transcription.
Is AI good enough for your business?
Think about all of the business meetings, customer service calls, and every time your business talks with a stakeholder. Business meetings and conference calls almost always have more than two speakers. You will be talking about numbers, there can be accents, and at times the subject matter is complex or very unique to your industry.
Because most business is now also international, it’s essential that the AI understand a variety of accents. However, users with accents or who use “non-standard” English are often misunderstood by AI transcription systems.
Speech recognition software can’t say, “that’s a strong accent, please repeat that.” It says, “I do not understand this.” As a machine, it understands what’s included in its training data, and accents are often very difficult for it to understand.
Wired gathered some of their friends from Italy, Ireland, Scotland, England, Japan, Germany, and Australia to test popular AI voice recognition softwares. Siri, Google Home, and Amazon Echo were asked a variety of questions from each participant.
The results were mostly in favor of people without accents.
The importance of an accurate transcript when doing international business is paramount. Many studies outline that people who speak English as a second or third language can read and understand documents better than they can listen. So, if you want to reach the biggest audience and have them understand it, an error-free transcript is necessary.
Is voice recognition gender biased as well?
Research by Dr. Tatman, published in the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL), shows that speech recognition is 13% more accurate for men than women.
Furthermore, a thought experiment by Harvard Business Review puts Dr. Tatman’s research into perspective — how the accuracy is affected between a man and a woman, and a woman with an accent.
- Native English speaking man: 92%
- Native English speaking woman: 79%
- Non-native English speaking woman: 69%
AI transcription still has some significant flaws to improve. And for your business, these flaws might not be worth it.
On the other hand, as humans, we are exposed to all kinds of accents throughout our lives. Our ears are accustomed to it, facilitating nearly perfect communication. We also understand men and women equally.
Most human transcription services can guarantee 99% accuracy. Usually, accuracy rates don’t drop because of accents or dialects. The greatest threat to the accuracy of your transcript is generally inferior audio quality.
The top business transcription use cases
Businesses obviously aren’t limited to what they can have transcribed. Here are the top use cases:
Do your meetings have a note-taker? Or do you ask everyone to bring a notepad along? Important points can be missed easily, especially when there are multiple speakers. As an alternative to note-taking, you can record your meetings simply by placing a hand-held digital recorder or even a smartphone on the table. When you send the file to your transcription service you will have your entire meeting transcribed. Nothing will be missed because of poor note taking.
Focus Group Discussions
Any videos or audio recorded during focus group discussions can be transcribed and used as text copy later on or as subtitles in videos. These are also extremely valuable when conducting research for company products or services.
Adding the correct information to your database after interviews is essential for hiring the right people when you may be interviewing multiple people for the same position. When comparing candidates, you can have all the information at your fingertips and highlighting key differentiators.
Stakeholders need accurate information. If your business can’t provide that, they may opt out. With business transcription, you can give them accurate documents of your board meetings, conference calls, and investor calls.
Customer service calls
Every customer service call must be recorded for reference and quality assurance. Call centers and BPOs have a high volume of calls every day. The calls can quickly be transcribed and organized as text documents for training and quality assurance.
Internal HR meetings
Recording HR meetings is almost a requirement these days because of all the wrongful termination lawsuits. Having them transcribed will help human resources and corporate decision making when dealing with internal employee discipline and termination.
Transcripts from meetings, conference calls, team building exercises, and focus groups can be used to create public relations materials to grow brand awareness and relationships.
Adding subtitles to YouTube videos increases watch time. Likewise, transcribing audio files into text helps boost your SEO (search engine optimization).
Overall, transcripts help companies flow.
“Working with Transcription Outsourcing LLC has been very positive for my business. I run a marketing agency and a podcast. We transcribe each podcast episode and add it to our website, which then leads to more views and showing up in keyword searches. I highly recommend transcribing and repurposing your content from a marketing standpoint.”Joey Kercher CEO AirFresh Marketing
What can your transcripts look like?
What format do you need your transcript in? There are three main categories of a transcript: edited, cleaned up verbatim (intelligent transcription), and verbatim. These offer varying levels of detail and readability at different price points.
Let’s look at the different options you have for your transcripts in more depth.
Edited transcription offers quality documents that involve the omission of some grammatically incorrect, excessive, or unnecessary sentences or phrases. Regardless of the parts omitted, the context of the text is still maintained.
Edited transcription often includes content that business owners wish to have translated in a foreign language, published as a book, or to use as printed material. The readability of the document is prioritized and usually written formally. Therefore, it’s presentable in conferences, seminars, and speeches.
Cleaned up verbatim (Intelligent transcription)
Intelligent transcriptions prioritize accuracy. Compared to edited transcription, it focuses on the light editing of the audio or video file. All of the “umms” “like” “erms” with pauses between discussions, repetitions, and expressions of acknowledgment are omitted from the document. Stutters and stammers, non-standard language (gonna, ain’t, ‘cause), coughing, and throat clearing are also eliminated.
Taking out the fillers and unnecessary fragments of the recording is scratching the surface. The most intricate factor in cleaned up verbatim is keeping context and delivering an entirely accurate transcript even after the misspoken components are taken out.
The final product is expected to have substance while accurately representing the original file’s tone and essence.
Cleaned up verbatim transcripts are mostly used in the business and less than formal use of transcription services.
Verbatim transcription captures both the verbal and non-verbal components of the discussion. Fillers, slangs, stammers, and all the details in the original audio file are retained.
In addition to the message’s essence, factors such as shifts in breathing, emotion and tone, interruptions in speech, and background noises can be noted in the final product. It serves as a reliable and vital tool for research and court hearings, police investigations, and job interviews.
Each type of transcription serves a different purpose. That’s why it’s important to specify your needs with your transcription provider before initiating the project.
On top of choosing the format, you can also get extras like timestamps and speaker identification.
Timestamps are helpful when a reader wants to listen to the audio that corresponds with the transcript. Besides, they are useful to refer to a specific part of the transcript. For example, “at [01.21:30], the CEO asks the investor if they are ready to seal the deal.” This allows readers to find sections they are looking for quickly.
Speaker labels are used to identify different speakers in a transcript. The label is usually the speaker’s name, role, or another identifying attribute.
Here’s an example of a transcript with speaker identification implemented:
You can make your transcript as thorough or as minimal as you need it. Remember to always talk about the format and extras with your provider.
What requirements should your transcriptionist have?
If the accuracy rate of your transcript is important, you are going to want to know who is transcribing it? What kind of requirements do they have, or should they have?
Business transcriptionists are technically general transcriptionists with extensive knowledge and experience in the business field. That being said, they don’t need to undergo specialty courses that a legal or medical transcriptionist would.
They also don’t need a full college degree to work in the business transcription field. However, some coursework may be required. Many community colleges offer transcription courses, including ADHI (Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity) certified courses. Taking an ADHI-certified course doesn’t mean the transcriptionist wants to work in the medical field. However, it gives them better credentials.
The next thing the business transcriptionist does is learn business vocabulary. It’s crucial to understand familiar words, acronyms, and the context they are used in such as:
- Mergers and acquisitions (M and A)
- Null and void
- Income statement
- Balance sheet
- Hostile takeover
And many, many more. If the audio contains words or acronmys that aren’t in the transcriptionist’s vocabulary, they’ll research it to make sure it’s spelled correctly and stays within context.
Aside from some coursework and vast business vocabulary, a transcriptionist needs outstanding listening skills so they can make out words with background noises present. Fast typing skills are a must to keep up with the speakers in the audio. Grammar and English language skills help the readability and accuracy of the transcript. Lastly, the transcriptionist should have excellent time management skills. Besides, getting your transcript back on time (considering the editing process with the QA team) plays a role in why you choose to work with a particular transcription company in the first place.
Hidden costs when sending business transcription work offshore
Like AI, offshoring transcription work is becoming increasingly popular among businesses. Transcription services from Europe, Latin America, and Asia boast high accuracy rates and fast turnaround times. Possibly the most alluring benefit of all is saving money.
However, there are many arguments on whether choosing an offshore company actually saves your business money in the long-run as people are becoming aware of hidden costs.
What kinds of hidden costs are we considering?
The cost of selecting a vendor
When you outsource a service, you pay the expense of a service provider, which can cost anywhere from 0.2% to 2% in addition to the annual cost of the deal. To put it into perspective, sending $20,000 of work overseas would cost you anywhere from $40 to $400 each year.
The selection costs include sending RFPs and evaluating the responses, documenting requirements, and negotiating a contract. A foreign project manager could be working on this, and several others all at the same time as everyone sees a profit opportunity in doing higher volumes.
There are also legal fees. Some companies hire an outsourcing advisor for an equal cost of doing it themselves. The entire process can take six months to one year, depending on the nature of the contract.
The cost of layoffs
Suppose you used to work with a US-based transcription service or an in-house transcriptionist and are now switching to offshore. In the latter case, you may pay some unanticipated expenses like severance and unemployment benefits increases.
Layoffs can also cause significant morale problems among workers, in some cases leading to disaffection and work slowdowns. Companies with experience offshoring should factor in the productivity dips and potential legal action from laid-off employees into their cost-benefit analysis.
The cultural cost
You simply cannot replace an American with someone from a different cultural background. A reason for this is that every culture has its own idea of work ethics and perspectives. Something that may seem like common sense to an American could be entirely bogus for someone reviewing your work overseas.
In transcription, context is everything. It’s what helps boost accuracy rates. The biggest issue with using foreigners for transcription is that they don’t understand the context and miss key points simply because they don’t live here. For example, they may not know what “Thanksgiving” is and transcribe it as “thanks for giving.” “Bachelorette party” could be confused for “bachelor’s degree.” Some things are common in American culture and aren’t experienced in other parts of the world, creating a lack of knowledge.
Also, turnover rates in offshore companies are generally higher. That means you’re paying to get a transcriptionist that will learn your needs, then suddenly you get a new one and have to explain everything over again.
Communication ties into high turnover. You’ll spend much more time on video calls trying to explain your requirements because offshore workers don’t always interpret things the same way an American does.
The cost of managing an offshore contract
Managing an offshore contract presents itself with a significant amount of work, including invoicing, auditing, ensuring the cost centers are charged correctly, and recording time properly. And the more projects you send offshore, the more you’ll have to keep track of.
There’s also the risk of what happens if the provider breaks a contract or agreement. The cost of getting an international lawyer to go after someone overseas for breaking a contract (including an NDA agreement) is astronomical. People can simply disappear and never be seen again. It’s different if you are a large company like Apple or Google with offices all over the world. There are maybe 100 companies that have the power to enforce contracts worldwide.
The enormous cost of editing
Lastly, when you receive your transcript back from overseas, and its error rate is too high to use, you’ll either edit it yourself or pay one of your staff to fix it. Your staff, who should be focusing on more important tasks, may now have to work overtime. You may also need to hire an in-house editor or outsource the editing.
So, does outsourcing your transcription needs actually save you money? By looking at the hidden costs, the answer is leaning towards no. After you select a vendor, consider the cultural barriers, the possible layoffs, the contract management, and the time needed to edit. Choosing a US-based transcription service will be equal or even cost less in the long run.
Security to consider for your business transcription services
When you hand your business information to someone else, you trust that the company won’t share or allow a breach of your data.
However, you should never base the decision purely on trust. The service needs to provide security measures so you know your information is safe.
So, what’s the solution?
An NDA (non-disclosure agreement) is a document that the provider signs, making them legally obligated to keep your data confidential.
Some common reasons businesses require providers to sign NDAs are:
- Discussing the sale or licensing of a product
- Presenting an offer to a potential partner or investor
- Speaking about proprietary information
- Brainstorming new product, service, or business ideas
Must the provider sign an NDA every time? No. If you don’t consider the information in your file you’re outsourcing to be private, the provider doesn’t need to sign an NDA. The provider does need to sign an NDA without hesitation when you request one though. Having the provider sign an NDA lets you operate at a higher level with less risk.
What other standard security practices should the transcription provider follow?
Since transfers and cloud storage are all over the internet, providers must take security steps to protect files while receiving them until they are sent back to you. There has been an increase in cyber hacking over the past few years as technology is advancing, and most transcription providers have adapted to the strictest security measures.
The business transcription provider you choose should have the following:
- Network security monitoring tools
- Encryption tools
- Network defense wireless tools
- Web vulnerability scanning tools
- Packet sniffers
- Antivirus software
- Endpoint protection
Is it necessary for providers to have all of these features? Absolutely. Security systems are crucial for the confidentiality of your file throughout the entire transcription process.
The cost and turnaround time for business transcription
Outsourcing business transcription to a human provider costs anywhere from $1.50 to $5.00 per audio minute generally. The number of speakers, the audio quality, and the turnaround time required will also affect the pricing.
Typically, timestamps and verbatim transcripts come with an extra cost since the transcriptionist needs more time to produce them. For perspective, Transcription Outsourcing charges 25 cents per audio minute for timestamps and verbatim.
You can pick the turnaround time that you need. The faster you need it back, the more it will cost. It’s recommended you send your files as early as possible to avoid needing the rush rate.
Turnaround times are flexible. You can call your transcription provider to get your transcript back within a few hours, or you can wait as long as ten days. Most business clients choose standard rates (3-5 days). Note that larger projects consisting of 100+ hours of audio may take longer depending on the quality.
If you find that you often have varying needs, call the transcription provider and explain what you need. As every provider is different, this is a critical step to ensure they can provide what you need at a fair price.
A Checklist for Your Business Transcription Needs
Are you ready to find a business transcription provider? Here’s an overview of what we learned in this article.
The business transcription provider should:
- Have a 99% guaranteed accuracy rate. This is possibly the most important aspect of all since you don’t want to be spending time and money correcting errors.
- Be 100% US-based. The transcription service should be based in the US and have all American transcriptionists. This helps maintain the accuracy rate and context of your transcripts.
- Sign an NDA. You don’t want private information about your company getting out. An NDA can put your mind at ease throughout the transcription process.
- Offer flexible rates and turnaround time to compliment your budget and schedule.
- Follow security measures such as encryption, a firewall, antivirus software, etc. to keep your information safe.
- Transcribe in a variety of formats to suit your needs.
- Be upfront and transparent with costs and fees so that there are no surprises.
The worst is needing to switch transcription providers frequently as you have to re-explain projects and preferences every time. Having one provider that knows what you need is the key to consistency.
How to choose the best business transcription service provider requirements: Downloadable PDF
Want to bring the checklist with you while you look for the best business transcription provider? Download this PDF.
Choosing the best business transcription provider has many components. You must ensure the provider will guarantee accuracy, follow your requested formats, and follow strict security measures. Once you find the right provider, you’ll have a long-term relationship that will provide you with accurate transcripts when you need it. Transcription Outsourcing LLC has worked with repeat business clients for years, and we never fail to listen to our client’s needs. Call us now to share your project with a real human: (720) 287-3710.