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Choosing a Transcription Service - 7 Best Tips

Wednesday 10 November 2021 |
Brendan Pike
choosing the right door

Deciding which transcription service is best for you can be difficult and confusing but it’s worth taking the time to find the right transcription service. We have many clients who over the years have changed roles, organisations and even sectors yet continue to use us, so a little time investment up front pays off well into the future.

All transcription providers claim to be fast, professional and accurate but if that were true your choice would be easy, just use the cheapest. In reality you need to identify those who have a proven history of delivering results in your criteria. Use these seven tips to find the best transcription service provider faster:

  • Get the right level of accuracy. Most companies claim a 99%+ accuracy which sounds impressive but when you consider that an average 30 minute interview has 4,000 words, a 99% accuracy transcript may contain up to 40 errors and still be within guidelines, as opposed to only 16 errors for when 99.6% is used. High accuracy is delivered by native English speakers with an understanding of local lingo. Avoid providers who use overseas transcribers where high accuracy is required.
    • If your content is legal, medical or academic require high accuracy of 99.6% or better.
    • If your content is more general, like informal discussions, sermons and entertainment then 99% accuracy is acceptable.
  • Make sure they offer a range of turnaround times. The best transcription service will return your transcription on time, every time. This means having an experienced team of typists who can deal with fluctuating work loads. Using longer turnaround times will save you money but make sure the provider also offers shorter turnaround times as well, otherwise on that odd occasion you need something urgent you have to spend time finding another provider who can meet the deadline.
  • Confirm the company demonstrates competence in security and confidentiality. If your content is intended to end up in the public arena then this is not important, but if you deal with sensitive and private information then this is critical. Having legal NDA’s, policies and agreements are essential but not a real world indicator of practice, especially since Australian laws can’t protect you outside of Australia. A couple of simple questions can often reveal a lot:
    • Is my data ever stored or accessed by anyone outside of Australia?
    • Is my work ever emailed?
  • Choose an experienced and reliable company. Transcription companies with longer histories have more experience, which most of the time translates to a smoother experience and better outcome. A contact or colleague’s recommendation is also valuable assurance but so is asking for client references from the same sector you work in. Be sure they have a phone number as well as email and are quick and responsive in communicating.
  • Do they provides a flexible custom platform. Most reputable transcription companies provide customised web platforms as a free part of their service. These can save you significant time and avoid frustration so be sure to ask about their platform features. A few examples might be custom invoice settings, credit management, multiple project settings, multi-file uploading and document archival offerings.
  • Get competitive clear upfront pricing. Costs should be known before the work is done and any additional surcharges that may apply to any work is also known and agreed on in advance. If you have a substantial amount of work, eg. 30 hours of audio, some companies will offer a base discount to win your work, so don’t forget to ask.
  • Provide ethical pay levels. Wanting to get the best rate you can is natural but of course not if the person doing the work isn’t getting paid enough to make a fair living. Companies who pay their team poorly also tend to have high worker turn over and deliver lower client experiences. So be wary of companies offering low rates, more so if they use Australian transcribers and yet still offer low industry rates.

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