We know: transcript services make life convenient and easy. When you have audio or video that needs typing, it saves a ton of time and frustration to have professionals do it for you.
Did you know that transcription services charge higher rates for certain work?
Below are six things transcript services charge premiums for, along with measures YOU can take to keep transcription costs reasonable and ensure the highest quality documents.
Transcript Services Charge Premiums for:
1) Unreasonable Background Noise
There’s little more costly than expecting transcription companies to work miracles on audio that sounds like it was recorded in a wind tunnel, a moving 18-wheeler, or smack dab in the midst of a gaggle of squealing, banging toddlers walking seven barking mastiffs.
Granted, it’s not always possible to produce recordings captured in perfect, sanctuary-like silence. But it’s important to try to create as ideal a recording environment as possible.
This helps ensure the most accurate, sensible transcripts, and to lower your transcription rates (or massively reduce time spent, if you’re transcribing your recordings yourself).
Fast Fix: Transcript services can’t charge premiums for interference that isn’t there. Coerce your participants to move pets, babies, rowdy colleagues, and nagging spouses to alternate (and distant) locations during your meeting.
If that’s impossible, if you can, courteously—but firmly—ask when (not”if”) you can call back when background noise is reduced.
Obviously, this request is less likely to be honored, the more famous or important the interviewee. But for many, once they realize you simply can’t proceed without a certain measure of quiet, they’ll respect your request and make it happen.
2) Mutterers and Whisperers
“Pssst! Shrubba wishes plazzle foo? Wentaba max flannigan wentexxle pharb!”
While the above may be “colorful,” it is also, unfortunately, completely nonsensical. You might be surprised to learn that transcript services often receive similarly unintelligible media, due to hushed voices or poor microphone placement—particularly for focus group projects.
But what can you do?
Low-talkers don’t seem to have “outside voices,” and it’s nearly impossible to get them to project.
With the best of intentions, low-talkers—usually kind, amenable, and unfailingly polite—start out trying their darndest to be cooperative for the sake of your recording.
But let’s be real. If they’ve used hushed voices for 20, 30, 50-plus years, can we really expect them to be consistently LESS hushed for a full 60 minutes?
Plus, regardless of their courteous demeanor, they still don’t give much of a hoot whether your transcript is usable—or more costly than it had to be.
Fast Fix: Speakers in the room with your recorder? Move it closest to the low-talker(s).
Fast Fix 2: Got remote low-talkers dialing in? Admonish AGAINST using speakerphone, lest they be drowned out by louder participants.
Transcript services skyrocket when transcribing companies can’t easily make out what’s being said.
3) Microphone Proximity Issues
NOTE: Whatever your recorder is closest to, it shall record this at loudest volume.
Very often, we receive audios of speakerphone calls where the interviewer has placed the recorder next to the phone speaker and their own computer.
What they don’t realize is that banging out those notes drowns out the interviewee the entire time.
Again, whatever your recorder is NEXT to, on TOP of, in FRONT of, or UP against, that, Dear Reader, is what your dedicated transcriber will hear most clearly… and their parent company will charge for accordingly, for the extra work.
Fast Fix: Place the recorder away from all noise-making doohickeys—keyboards, cell phones, cutlery, A/C units or fans, open windows, clinking dishes, barking dogs, and rustling papers.
Even a mediocre microphone will record whatever is closest to it at the loudest volume.
4) The Dreaded Speakerphone
While we’re on the topic, recording any side of a conversation from a speakerphone will rarely product a quality recording.
But why is that, when it sounds good on your end?
Despite vocal clarity or volume, speakerphone-recorded voices almost always sound muffled or distorted on playback.
Many interviewers boost the phone volume to try to compensate for using speakerphone. But unbeknownst to them, this seemingly innocent increase in call volume adds ear-splitting mechanical distortion, which further clouds the dialog (and can really be injurious to a transcriber’s long-term hearing).
Transcript services often boost their rates considerably to account for these factors.
Fast Fix: Reduce transcription rates by … not using speakerphone.
5) Telephone Recordings
We’ve covered the risks of speakerphone recordings. But what about phone recordings in general? Those are okay, right?
Not so fast.
Most iPhone, Android, etc. apps are insufficient to record conversations intelligible enough for transcription because, by design, they record through the phone’s microphone.
What does that mean?
It means that you’ll have to put the call on speakerphone for the app to record conversation.
That’s right—the costly mistake from Point #4.
Vital enunciations are lost when recording with speakerphone, meaning a transcript service are less able to tell a spoken “s” from an “f” sound, an “m” from an “n,” etc. Those seemingly minute nuances are crucial to the accuracy of your transcription services.
Fast Fix: Play it safe: Plug a manual, standalone recorder directly into the phone when recording calls.
Fast Fix 2: No physical recorder? Use a phone conferencing service that records call recording, like FreeConferenceCall.com.
Not only will your transcription rates be more reasonable, your call costs may be too, when you’re able to conference for free.
6) The Speedy Gonzalez
Fast-talkers: There’s little you can do about them, as Speedys have been speedy their whole lives and are just not very flippin’ likely to slow down to make your life easier, unfortunately.
Some transcription services tack on extra fees for fast talkers, as they’re much more difficult (and often require twice as much labor) to transcribe.
Fast Fix: When dealing with fast-talkers, paraphrase their most significant point(s) after they’ve spoken, particularly when they’ve blabbed out more than a few sentences.
Don’t worry. If you do this well, you won’t sound like a parrot; you’ll come across as an expert moderator with the enviable ability to keep your meeting on-topic, focused, and time-efficient. :}
“Sandra, I understand that you think Acme Corp will find it unusually difficult in Q3 to surge ahead of XYZ Consulting. But here’s a thought…”
This way, you give both your transcription company (and the other meeting participants) a better idea of what Speedy is blathering on about, so they can more easily identify key points and deliver higher accuracy faster, and consequently, at lower cost.
Getting the Most from Transcript Services
As hard as it is to create accurate transcripts from substandard audio, transcript services’ rates increase in relation to effort. (If they don’t, the “discount” on the front end is usually displayed in the [abysmal] resulting document!) The six solutions above can help you achieve more accurate transcripts with a faster turnaround time. Try them!
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We’re glad it helped, Patagonia! Just write us if you have any other questions about getting the best rate for your transcription project.