Focus Groups

Why It Matters That the Transcription Industry Leader Is Raising Their Rates

Why It Matters That the Transcription Industry Leader Is Raising Their Rates 2500 1407 Atomic Scribe

The transcription industry is a quiet corner of the internet. But in November of 2019, an explosive Twitter thread revealed that Rev (a leader in the industry) was paying their transcriptionists extremely low wages and mistreating workers.

We have actually written about Rev previously, specifically about how their $1/audio minute catch-all service ensured low quality and low payment for workers. The Twitter comments and resulting news coverage only strengthened our argument.

Perhaps as a result of the bad publicity, Rev has recently announced that they will raise their rate to $1.25/audio minute in an effort to heighten accuracy and to pay their workers better. This is, honestly, almost unheard of in recent years, where rates have been getting lower and lower to stay competitive against other companies and AI. So what does this mean for the industry and for consumers?

1. Fairer rates = more happiness.

In their announcement, Rev cited that some customers were angry with the increase. That’s understandable, as no one likes to pay more money. But imagine it’s your family member who is the transcriptionist in this equation. If they’re making $4.50/hour for difficult work, would you be happy? Increasing what transcriptionists make is good for everyone – the worker makes more money, the company makes more money, and the content is more accurate for the client. So, yes, paying more sucks. But paying a fair rate for something you can’t or prefer not to do yourself is right.

2. AI isn’t king yet.

At Atomic Scribe, we’ve introduced a $1/audio minute AI option that uses human editors for basic, simple files. The reason there are restrictions on what type of files we include in this program is because AI is nowhere near 100% accurate yet on all files. AI has problems with accents, multiple speakers, slang, proper nouns, and so many other factors that affect accuracy. So, while the industry is trending towards using AI more and more, there is still a huge part for humans to play in the transcription process.

“Just as the best athletes get the highest wages, the best transcriptionists are going to work for companies that pay them the best rates, and that means higher quality work.”

“Just as the best athletes get the highest wages, the best transcriptionists are going to work for companies that pay them the best rates, and that means higher quality work.”

3. Transcription is boring and hard.

We will be honest here: transcribing sucks. The number of clients who say they started to transcribe a file, realized how hard it was, and found us to finish the file is innumerable. Imagine you’re transcribing a focus group. You have to listen to multiple people talk over each other, be able to identify each person by their voice alone, construct a transcript when slang and bad grammar is used, and sit for long periods of time while doing all this. It’s tough, and it’s tiring, and it’s often easier to pay someone else to do it rather than waste hours of your own time.

So the transcription industry isn’t going away anytime soon. On the contrary, thanks to the internet there is more content than ever that needs transcripts and captions, and the difficulty of the work means human transcriptionists are necessary.

4. Customers care about quality, for the most part.

In this industry, higher rates usually mean higher quality. Just as the best athletes get the highest wages, the best transcriptionists are going to work for companies that pay them the best rates, and that means higher quality work. At Atomic Scribe, our biggest rule is that all of our work must be high quality. If it’s not, we’re going to transcribe it again until it’s as close to perfect as it can be. Because if it’s not, then what’s the point of spending your money on it?

With the advent of low-rate companies like Rev, quality in the industry has been declining in recent years because low rates = low pay = low quality. So Rev increasing their rate is a welcome reprieve, where finally workers are seen as vital to a company’s success. But customers need to do their part, too. Demand high quality, pay fair rates, and call out injustice in the workplace.

Case Study: Atlanta Market Research Company Transcription

Case Study: Atlanta Market Research Company Transcription 4218 2802 Atomic Scribe

The Client

The client was a respected market research company in the Atlanta, Georgia area who required transcripts for eight focus group audio recordings, with five to 10 speakers in each recording.

The Challenge

Our biggest challenge was successfully transcribing and identifying as much speech as possible. The groups all had multiple participants who were young mothers from the same area (and, thus, all with similar accents).

Other challenges included:

  • Southern accents
  • Unfamiliar jargon
  • Broken English
  • No video to help identify speakers
  • Multiple speakers talking at once

The client also needed groups back within four days, which was a tight deadline for the large amount of recordings. As these were multiple-speaker focus groups with difficult audio, the project was not eligible for our machine transcription option and needed to instead be transcribed in-house by our workers.

“Atomic Scribe was a joy to work with. Kathryn kept me updated on progress so that I didn’t have to worry about files being sent back late. Instead, everything was well on time and extremely high quality. 100% value for the money!”

– The Client

“Atomic Scribe was a joy to work with. Kathryn kept me updated on progress so that I didn’t have to worry about files being sent back late. Instead, everything was well on time and extremely high quality. 100% value for the money!”

– The Client

The Atomic Scribe Solution

An Atomic Scribe project manager immediately reached out to the company via the client’s preferred communication method (e-mail) to confirm the project details and provide an estimate for the project cost. We then had the client create a free account through our dedicated client portal so they could upload their files to our server.

Once we had the recordings, we listened to each recording and assigned files to our transcriptionists based on which groups suited each transcriptionist best. When the first transcriptionist completed a file, a proofreader then listened to the entire file again to edit the transcript, if necessary. Our two-tiered approach ensured maximum quality for the client.

The Result

Because of Atomic Scribe’s efficient system and communication, we finished the project within the requested timeframe. Atomic Scribe also:

  • Adhered to a client-specific template
  • Achieved 98% accuracy on clear-audio files and averaged 94% accuracy on difficult files
  • Successfully identified all respondents to the best of our ability
  • Allowed for easy upload and download of files through the client portal
  • Provided a simple way for the client to pay their invoice through the client portal

All in all, the client rated our service five out of five stars, with accuracy and communication as the top two listed services provided by Atomic Scribe. We have continued to work with this client on multiple market research transcription and translation projects.

5 Ways Focus Group Moderators Can Improve Transcripts

5 Ways Focus Group Moderators Can Improve Transcripts 5472 3648 Atomic Scribe

A focus group moderator’s job is not easy, but neither is a transcriptionist’s. It can be very difficult to capture everything that is said in a long discussion with as many as a dozen people speaking. But, working together, here are some tips for moderators on how to help make their focus group transcripts as high quality as they can be.

1. Identify Group Participants

Many focus groups are built around a theme. For example, a company could want a focus group on breastfeeding, which means the participants would likely be women within a certain age range. Unfortunately that also means that it’s possible many of the group participants will have similar-sounding voices, and that can make speaker identification problematic.

A focus group moderator can help the transcriptionist be more accurate in their identification by simply using participants’ first names frequently. A “Thank you, [Participant],” or “[Participant], what do you think?” is all that’s necessary. And even if a moderator doesn’t identify a participant after every response, doing so frequently at least gives the transcriptionist lengths of audio they can use to compare non-identified portions with, which is incredibly helpful.

2. Test Background Noise

Before a group arrives, record a minute of audio in the room the group will take place in (and speaking while sitting in the seat farthest from the recorder is also advised). When you play it back, notice if there are any background noises that could be hindering the audio. There are sounds that may be quiet in person but loud on the recording, such as a running air conditioner or hallway chatter. A quick test run will help you figure out where best to position the recorder, or give you time to figure out if there is a way to lessen any background noise.

3. Cut Out Crosstalk

The whole point of a focus group is to get a discussion going, and moderators never want to discourage participants from speaking their honest thoughts. That said, sometimes a moderator has to take charge and stop side conversations or multiple people speaking at once in order to keep the audio intelligible.

But moderators can fall victim to crosstalk as well. It’s natural during a conversation to use filler words (“Okay,” “Mm-hmm,” “Yeah”) when a participant is speaking to let them know you’re listening. Instead, it’s best to nod if it’s possible so that nothing blocks out the respondent’s speech.

4. Bring a Back-Up Recorder

There is not much worse than moderating a great focus group and then checking the recorder only to find it didn’t record or that the audio is damaged. That’s why we always recommend using at least two recorders in every group. Even if your facility offers to record your group, also use a second device (such as a free recording app on your phone) as well to ensure you have a back-up. Better safe than sorry!

5. Summarize Quiet Answers

Unfortunately some moderators learn the hard way that no matter what you do, some participants are just quiet or difficult to understand when the recording is played back. It’s a big help to a transcriptionist if the moderator quickly sums up what the hard-to-hear participant has just said. The moderator can do this by framing what has just been said as a question to the group. Example: “So, [Participant] thinks [Summarize Participant’s Answer]. What do you think?” It also gives participants something directly to respond to.

We’re all here to help the end client get everything from a focus group that they can, which means we’re partners in this. So talk to your project manager. Give them a template, if you have one that you prefer. Don’t be shy about asking for changes. Just as a moderator needs honest feedback from group participants, so too does a transcription partner need to know any changes that need to be made to ensure the highest quality possible.

We’re all here to help the end client get everything from a focus group that they can, which means we’re partners in this. So talk to your project manager. Give them a template, if you have one that you prefer. Don’t be shy about asking for changes. Just as a moderator needs honest feedback from group participants, so too does a transcription partner need to know any changes that need to be made to ensure the highest quality possible.