When Is a Transcription Company Not the Right Fit For You?

When Is a Transcription Company Not the Right Fit For You?

There are a lot of transcription companies out there, so how do you pick one? If you pick the cheapest one, you’ll likely receive a low-quality transcript in return. And then high-quality services can be too costly for many people. But quality and cost aren’t the only factors that should help you decide.

Really, the biggest decider is if the company is the right fit for you. So what should you look out for?

The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t really work

Here is the truth: specialization is king. There are loads of companies out there that do it all – they transcribe every language, any type of audio, from any industry. And all probably for under 1 dollar per audio minute!

So how is that possible? Well, because they use unethical practices. We’ve covered this a bit in the translation industry, how quality measures are almost nonexistent for many of the top translation companies in order to keep prices down. But the transcription industry is just as bad. Many companies promise American clients they’re using U.S.-sourced labor, but really they’re paying peanuts to overseas workers.

Let’s dive a little deeper into areas where that can especially be a problem.

Which Industries Does Atomic Scribe Specialize In?
  • Market Research
  • Private Investigation
  • Academic
  • Business & Insurance
  • Sermons
  • Entertainment Industry & Podcasts
  • Legal
  • And more!

Problem #1: Overpromising the industries served

At Atomic Scribe, we don’t take medical files because we don’t have specialized transcriptionists. We can take healthcare-related files, like market research focus groups about the healthcare industry, but we don’t transcribe doctor’s notes that have real patient information that require 100% accuracy.

But lots of other non-medical transcription companies do. They use workers in India, for example, who are expected to listen to poor audio, with difficult, sensitive medical terminology, and to produce a flawless transcript. Do you really trust that transcription?

That’s why it is imperative when you pick a transcription company to look at their site to see what they specialize in. You want a company familiar with your industry and specialized terminology. It’s the difference between feeling secure about your transcript accuracy and wasting money on an error-filled file.

“Just like in every other industry, you get what you pay for. […] If you’re paying an agency a few pennies per word, just imagine how little the translator is actually getting paid.”

“Just like in every other industry, you get what you pay for. […] If you’re paying an agency a few pennies per word, just imagine how little the translator is actually getting paid.”

Problem #2: Ability to correctly transcribe accents

Here is the section where we turn down the most clients (yes, we turn people down and give them recommendations of where to go!). We do work on files from all over the world, and we have taken accented-files plenty of times. But the purpose of the transcript is important.

For example, we have transcribed an Australian podcast before, and with 100% accuracy according to the client. The audio was clear, and the speech was clear as well. However, we have turned down files from Australia that had heavy accents, background noise, and needed 100% accuracy to be used in a trial. This was just not something we felt we could deliver with no mistakes, so we declined.

And that’s okay! The client was grateful, as both their time and our time wasn’t wasted for a subpar product. We directed them to an Australian company, and they were very happy with the end result. Sure, we missed out on some money, but it was worth it.

Problem #3: Transcribing in the right languages

Transcribing in English is difficult enough, but transcribing into English from another language is a whole ‘nother layer of difficulty.

When we first opened almost a decade ago, we tried to offer English, Spanish, German, and French services, in an effort to help more people. It quickly became apparent, however, that we were spreading ourselves too thin and couldn’t guarantee the quality our clients deserved.

So we pared that down to finding the best transcriptionists in English and Spanish only, and it’s been amazing to see the strong roster of talent we’ve cultivated. Our transcriptionists are the best, and we know them all personally. This isn’t just a machine.

But that’s exactly how it is at many transcription companies. They don’t have quality measures, so they use unskilled workers and hope the client doesn’t notice. And will they if they can’t understand the original Spanish audio and only the English transcript? They have to completely trust the transcription company that the transcript is accurate.

Problem #4: When to use AI vs. human transcription

We are in a new world now. Before, there was one option: have your audio or video transcribed by a real, live human. And hopefully have a second transcriptionist proofread for accuracy! But now AI has entered the fray, and it’s fast becoming a staple in the industry.

And guess what? That’s not all bad. We use AI ourselves for certain audio. But most of our audio is still both transcribed and edited by people, so as to preserve confidentiality and accuracy.

However, the biggest businesses in the industry usually use AI to auto-generate a transcript and then have an overseas worker edit the transcript, in an effort to save both time and money. That way, they can pay the freelancer a proofreading fee and not a transcriptionist’s pay (if that’s even a fair pay in the first place, which is rare).

So how do you know what’s right for you? Well, if you have audio that you don’t mind if the audio is used to hone the AI (like a podcast that’s going to be public anyway), then this is probably okay for you. You should also make sure your audio is clear, with no background noise, only one or two speakers, and no heavy accents. AI is still not to the point where it can take on heavy-duty files, and many low-paid, non-English speaking transcriptionists aren’t as well.


Want instant access to transcript ordering, price lists, and more? Sign up for your free client portal now.

Remember, it’s okay as a client to not be the right fit with a transcription company. This is a partnership, and the most important thing is that your transcripts are accurate. If they’re not, why are you wasting your money?

So look into the company you want to partner with, reach out and see if they specialize in your needs, and try them out. We promise you can find the right company at a fair rate – both fair for you and for the transcriptionists performing the work.

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    2560 1707 Atomic Scribe

    Atomic Scribe

    Atomic Scribe provides high-quality language services for all markets and sectors. Human-powered. Professional. Personal.

    All stories by : Atomic Scribe
    1 Comment
    • It’s helpful to know that transcription companies need to employ experts to ensure quality results. My uncle needs to hire a transcription service to help with some recordings and documents, so since he’s on a deadline, he needs to find one within the next two weeks. That’s why I’m sure that he’d be grateful to read your insight on identifying a quality transcription company.

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