What are the questions potential clients never, ever ask a transcription service? (but really should…)

  • Could you give me some information on your transcription staff?
    • What’s their academic background?
    • Where are your transcriptionists from?
    • What are the transcriptionists’ particular competencies in relation to the work I need done?

It’s advantageous to choose a transcription service based on their ability to provide transcriptionists with the background, education, and life experiences that best match your project’s needs.

Relying on experienced companies with top-notch reputations is your best guarantee of value for your transcription dollar. Aside from selecting a mature transcription service that has a strong history of  high-level work in a variety of subjects, what is more important is the quality and depth of the transcription group. While you probably will never have direct contact with a transcriptionist (unless it’s a one- or two-person operation next door), it is important to get a good idea about the backgrounds of the staff.

Factors listed below are critical to a quality transcription team:

  • education
  • diverse experience
  • general knowledge
  • diverse cultural backgrounds
  • keyboard speed
  • intellectual curiosity

Other tips:

  • If you have a large project under tight deadlines, select a transcription service that doesn’t rely on just one or two transcriptionists. Between sickness, holidays, vacation, personal problems, etc., projects can very easily be delayed.
  • While the transcription industry has tradtionally relied on home typists, it is best to select a service that insures that all production is monitored under professional supervision.  This results in greater confidence that the quality and integrity of the work, as well as the required turnaround time, will be ensured.
  • If you’re trying a new service, send them a short sample of what you need to have transcribed and evaluate the results, as well as the cost. In the long run, it will save you time, money, and anxiety.
  • A note to the wise: if you are considering outsourcing transcription to Asia or the Philippines, send a 15-minute sample to evaluate their ability to transcribe Americanese. Usually they will do a sample at no cost.
  • Don’t limit your search for transcription services to local sources alone. With electronic transmission of audio and emailed transcripts, you now have access to top-quality nationwide sources and equally quick turnaround as if they were next door.
  • If your transcripts are part of projects that generate direct income, the more rapid the turnaround, the quicker the completion of the project. This not only gives you a competitive advantage but also gets you paid more quickly.