The mechanics of transcription can seem to be deceptively easy. With a good set of headphones and the right software, you simply listen to the words and get them down on paper (or the computer screen) as quickly and as accurately as possible.
If the client is expecting a verbatim transcription, then you document everything exactly as you hear it – every pause, cough, sneeze, and repetition has to make it onto the page.
This perception of transcription can make the vendor search and price negotiation portions of a project very frustrating. Clients facing impending deadlines simply want the most accurate transcript in the fastest turnaround time and at the lowest price.
As a result, when professional transcription services start asking more detailed questions, those questions may often be dismissed as attempts to ‘up-sell’ the cost of the project or to tack-on additional services that aren’t really needed.
You Deserve to be Heard, But Are You Listening?
Freelancers who are more interested in maximizing their short-term monthly income than in building long-term client relationships will most often simply follow client instructions to the letter: “Here’s the file, I need the transcription file delivered in 48 hours.”
A professional transcription service, often at the risk of antagonizing a frazzled client who is primarily focused on a fast-approaching deadline, will usually ask for more information. The objective here is not to up-sell, but rather to ensure that you, as the client, receive the best possible end product and return to use their services on many occasions in the future.
For example, if the transcription will be used as a written summary of a conference presentation, a clean rather than a verbatim version would better suit the client’s needs. There may be no impact on turnaround time or cost, but the end product will be a better fit for the end-user. Only a professional transcriptionist service that is committed to that outcome will take the time to ask the question.
Expertise And Experience
In the same vein, a professional transcription service should encourage you to ask as many questions as you need to be answered to feel confident in the successful completion of the project. Transparency about relevant expertise and experience is critical here. Specific answers rather than generic attestations as to how much legal transcription the freelancer has done are a positive sign.
References and testimonials should be equally specific and offer you the necessary reassurance that this transcription service speaks your language, understands your needs, and can be counted on to deliver an accurate product.
The Humility of Quality Control
Solo transcriptionists will often emphasize the speed at which a project can be turned around. Professionals, in contrast, will prefer to have a second set of eyes take a fresh look at the material to double-check every element of the document.
Familiarity blindness can be a direct challenge to accuracy when you have been immersed in a document for an extended period of time, and professional transcription services are humble enough to recognize this, as well as the value of a separate quality control system to minimize the potential for such errors.
Finding a professional transcription service can take time and require a more detailed and collaborative approach. The investment of that extra time will be rewarded with the highest quality and most accurate transcription work you could ever hope to achieve.