Apparently choosing a transcription service can just be as simple as Googling for one and opting for the lowest from a list of pricing packages. But is anything that simple?
- Is your transcription company specialized in your field? How else can they be accurate when it comes to codes, laws and terminologies?
- Can you pre-book a date, so you don’t have to pay the premium when your audio/video file arrives and the time is scarce?
- You want your transcript in .doc format, but also need an XML file of it, or PDF, or PPT or all of them. Can your transcription company offer these to you?
There are a lot more things to consider when choosing a transcription company than just their pricing manuscript.
To assist you with this complex process we have compiled a list of 14 checks that you can make when considering your next transcription company. So, you wouldn’t have to worry when a critical situation comes by.
…Let’s get started then.
# 1: Fixed costs that can fix you up for good
It was a short 10 minutes audio file taken at the studio; it had to be transcribed as the content had to go live for the weekend’s broadcast. You search the web, and settle for a transcription company.
Say, this transcription company charges $1 per minute of transcription. Your 10 minutes audio should add up to $10? But, you are charged $25! Because, that’s the fixed minimum your transcription company charges. To avoid tricky situations like this ensure that your transcription company doesn’t charge a fixed minimum rate.
To be sure you are not getting a raw deal…
- Confirm through email even if they had committed an amount over the phone
- If they have a portal check how the calculation was done
- Chat with or call their representatives to discuss about the prices
# 2: Flexibility in turnaround time can be your life saver
Its half past 9, Friday night; you’ve just completed a 1 hour rigorous video presentation. But, you aren’t done yet; you need a complete transcription of the episode if you want it published on Monday morning’s press report. Usually you plan things out, but this time was a rush from the start; moreover it’s a weekend. A difficult situation when you need to hasten things up. So, are you in a fix now?
Not so when your transcription company is flexible enough to match with your needs. Usual turnaround times are 24 to 48 business hrs. But some companies also offer very short to long duration TATs ranging from 6 & 12 hrs to 96 & 120 hrs. These diverse options give you flexibility when it comes to the balancing of pricing and your urgency.
A 50 minutes file of CAT B (high quality), would cost you $100 at a rate of $2 per minute of transcript. That’s for standard turnaround time. However, an emergency TAT with 12 to 24 hours will cost you more. Flexible TAT options will save you money and time.
Can I per-book?
When sure that you would need a transcription service by the end of this month, but the file that needs to be transcribed will also be arriving only at the nick of the moment, you could end up paying for a rushed turnaround. An alternative would be per-booking which allows you to slot in a fixed time well in advance. So, when the time for transcription comes, you wouldn’t have to pay for rush charges, but rather the normal transcription rates.
If you are in need of regular transcription services, you should opt for a service that offers bulk order as an option.
- It helps cut down on overall cost when you are a large-scale video or audio content producer
- The bulk order option gives you the convenience of uploading multiple files in a single shot; and get transcripts delivered as and when each file is done
# 3: Why be stuck with a document format you don’t need!
The standard transcript format is a word document. It would be fine at most times, but, situations may arise when your requirements change. Say you might need the file to be in XML or PDF format.
You probably can convert the .doc files to the needed formatting using third party software. But that could involve a lot of processes and can become a burden. Or you could even opt for a professional service to do that for you.But you will be shedding down more of your green as transcription companies charge extra for different file formats they deliver.
- So, plan ahead on what format(s) you would require
- Inform the transcription company in advance
- Check about the software/team/experts they use for providing you these formats (like; where they get the different file formats from, etc…)
Note: Here are few common formats…
XML, PDF, .xl, .doc, .txt, HTML, HTML5, PPT and SubRip
# 4: Editable transcripts can save your day!
You work at the legal firm, and on your way to the court hearing. Your transcripts needed for the proceedings have arrived, but you notice a few blanks in your transcript. The time is short and you try reaching your transcription company on call or on chat.
There’s no response…(As you know well, lot of transcription companies get back to you after 12 hours.)
[It seems you have to do the editing yourself. There are not too many corrections, but they are significant and needs to be corrected.]
Editing them on word processor is quite simple, but you may have to listen to the audio to correctly fix them. You need to run an audio/video player and switch between your word document and the player to effectively make corrections. (Worst scenario: You may have misplaced/deleted your audio/video files)
But, there are transcription companies that go an extra mile and understand that users may have to make these types of final alterations, so provide an inbuilt tool.
A tool that integrates a media player along with a text editor and features audio-text synchronization; for easy editing! (And of course a company that responds to your queries and tickets would be an awesome plus.)
#5: Look for responsive customer support
We have all had one or two terrible encounters with customer care; either your transcription company’s or for the matter of fact, any other service provider’s. Being put on hold for incredibly longer than needed, or infuriating you with complete lack of knowledge. And the experience of dialing through a list of number trees can be quite unnerving and outright frustrating, especially when you have to reach your transcription company in a hurry. Poor customer support can make you feel inadequately supported and distant
- 24×7 Support that actually exists when you want them the most.
- Voice mail and chat support with dedicated platforms signifying the effort put into making themselves available to their customers.
- Transcription companies that offer portals for managing client tickets effectively (in the process allowing you to track the status of your queries).
# 6: API integration can make your life easy!
When your production unit releases a couple of videos every other day to your YouTube channel; isn’t it a chore to keep uploading your individual files over and over to the transcription providers for your transcripts?
May be your aren’t tech savvy or simply hate the compulsion of manual upload and download of all your files, repeatedly. Here’s a quick look at the number of ways a transcription company could be using to get the files from their clients, and their drawbacks:
- Email – Allows transfer of only smaller file sizes
- FTP – Requires the use of log in credentials, dedicated paths, installation procedures and security issues
- File repository systems – like Leapfile – No control over file confidentiality, they are just file exchange servers.
- Dropbox – Requires the need for sharing user name and password
- Direct links share –Time-consuming and repetitive
A solution? Integrated APIs!
It forms a secure bridge that connects your video hosting channel and your transcription company. When new videos are uploaded, simply specifying the links is all that you have to do. The transcription company should be able to take care of the rest.
No hurdles such as exchanging login credential, installation of any application, file size restrictions, and it offers complete security to your files.
And finally, no more of those cumbersome processes of re-uploading every single video file to your transcription company again.
# 7: Ask for a sample transcript
Imagine you are a university student looking for transcription services. You need someone who can get the transcripts done the way you want. But, how can you make sure that they deliver it?
You can do that by requesting for a sample transcript. It should allow you to ensure that the transcription company can follow your template or format; more so if the sample is that of your university’s.
You could check how they handle time-codes, multiple speakers, etc.
All-in-all this ensures two things:
- The company isn’t flying on false promises
- They simply can deliver!
# 8: Request for client references & social proof
If you aren’t yet convinced of the transcription company, then you could take the verification steps to next level.That would be to ask for client references from the transcription company themselves. Creditable service providers should be able to point out quite a number of satisfied clients.
When your transcription costs are within a few hundred dollars, and when you will be using a transcription service for not more than a couple of times, then obviously you don’t have to worry about the promises they make. But, when thousands of dollars are involved and your need for transcripts are business oriented, you have to insist on client references. You can consult area wise, business wise, industry wise, or format wise.
Everything is fine, yet you need a little more convincing before safely settling with the transcription company?
Of course it’s always better that you track the credibility of a service before entering into a contract with them, right? And, now of all times it is within everyone’s reach to do that; via social links.
Keep a lookout for reviews, comments, testimonials and such on social networks, including websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and so on; you could be surprised from what you find.
Hey, better safe than sorry right?
# 9: Industry Experience Matters
Your medical practice needs a transcription service to get the dictations transcribed. One of your friends (in charge of a legal firm) recommends a company, which they have worked with for quite some time and are very satisfied with.
Of course you could go ahead with the suggestion, but should you? Not necessarily, unless the transcription company has your industry specific experience. That’s because there are medical jargons to get right and EHR templates to be used; transcribers without medical background cannot offer the best despite their best interests.
A transcription requirement for the medical field is totally different to that of a lawyer’s. So, ensuring your industry specific experience before jumping into contracts can save you significant trouble later on.
# 10: Extended services – captioning, subtitling, presentation, XML formats, etc.
Well, you have your transcripts, but your YouTube video is still displaying captions generated by YouTube’s auto-captioning tool. Despite some hilarious sentences those captions have served their purpose. However, now it’s time that you make use of your perfect transcript.
But, you have to format the script to make that work. And, you have options; do the re-scripting yourself (which is going to kill your time) or find a service that can do it for you (this of course is going to cost you). Which would it be? Answer: A third option. Let your transcription company do it for you!
“5% Extra Effort Makes A 100% Difference”
Transcription companies that offer this bonus service can greatly complement your transcription requirements. Moreover that’s going to save a lot of time and a good amount of money as well. Because, being added services the cost would be fraction of what a dedicated captioning company would charge, and since they can be readied alongside the transcripts, the overall time is cut down considerably. So opt for a transcription company that is into other related verticals as well.
# 11: Certified transcribers. Why it’s important…
When you are working for government organizations, legal firms, or on tender agreements and big projects, you want your work to be handled by professionals with creditable authority.
There are two ways to ensure that your work is given to the right person. The first being what we’d already discussed, researching on social networks and requesting for referrals. The second is looking for certifications.
When your practice is delivering patient details to a third party business, would you want to ensure that they retain the level of privacy that you maintain and that they are serious about patent details? Yes, transcription companies should also maintain HIPPA regularities.
Likewise, each industry focuses on its own list of legal regulations, and ensuring the service complies with it can protect you legally.
#12: Record, save, transcribe and send. Simple!
A top man in the field of your business is visiting your company. You have planned a question session that’s going to capture the industry’s attention when published. But hey, there’s a section you haven’t thought of so far. How are you going to professionally record this interview? Do you have to inquire around for reputed videographers? Or do you have other solutions?
Well, the solution can be much simpler; some transcription companies have been known to refer videographers, and once the session is done, take responsibility of the transcription tasks and deliver you a complete package, (including: recording, saving, transcribing and delivering).
Mobile recorders: When you feel hiring professional videographers aren’t an affordable choice, then you can either opt for a recorder which can help you record and save as audio files or if the transcription company themselves offer a dedicated recording app, opt for it. Holy cow, isn’t that a convenience?
# 13: Do they transcribe analog tapes?
Digital technologies have reduced analog mode of audio and video capturing significantly. But they haven’t eradicated them entirely; there are still few people who abide by them. Moreover, there are a number of houses and business with cassettes and video tapes of their business events, engagements, family vacations, marriages and so on sitting ideally on shelves.
If you have encountered people with such collections of old video cassettes you might hear them say, how they wished for these memories and documentations to be digitized.
Well, that’s what few transcription companies offer – analog to digital conversion service. You courier them your audio/video cassette, they digitize it, return the analog cassettes, work on the transcriptions and deliver you the captions. Of course, without any additional charges!
# 14: The need for flexible payment options cannot be discounted
It’s inconvenient for virtual colleges with high demand for transcription services to make payments every single time a file is transcribed. That could mean sending in invoices, sending cheques, and making a bunch of financial transactions every now and then.
So, it’s good if companies offer payment packages such as weekly, monthly, payment options. And also for better convenience check if they accept alternate modes of payments. Such as wire transfer, PayPal, credit or debit card, cheque, purchase orders to name a few.
There you have it, a complete guide to choosing the right transcription company. And a quick sum up… be aware of fixed costs, check for flexible TATs, multiple document formats, editable transcripts, responsive customer support, API integration, ask for sample transcripts, client referrals, social proofs, testimonials, industry experience, extended services (captioning, subtitling, etc.), certification, recording services, analog transcriptions and flexibility in payment options.