Often in movies we see a woman typing really fast at the proceedings of a court hearing or a criminal trial. For a lot of people, that’s probably the only scope within which they’ve seen a transcriptionist on duty.
But what are transcription services, who uses them, and what good are they?
How Big is the Transcription Services Business?
A transcription service is a process by which the spoken words are written down. Companies and individuals use transcription services in a wide range of fields and for many reasons. For example, translating movies, TV shows, or documentaries requires the video to be transcribed first before being subtitled.
In the healthcare industry, medical transcription also plays a huge role – so huge that medical transcription (MT) alone was valued at 5 billion dollars in 2017 1. Dictated reports, procedures and notes by doctors are rendered and edited in an electronic format to record the treatment history of patients. Medical transcription presents a number of challenges to transcribers as it requires them to have a working knowledge of medical terminology and an understanding of the rules and regulations of the healthcare industry.
Transcription services are also quite useful, or even indispensable, in other industries and contexts including:
- Business Meetings
Capturing the meeting minutes are crucial no matter the size of the team or company. In meetings where no detail can be spared, companies hire professional transcriptionists to make sure nothing gets lost. Every decision is well documented and easy to circulate properly.
- Law Firms, Attorneys and Paralegals
A court transcript is crucial for planning rebuttal and attack in following hearings, raising the right questions, or even to be used as evidence in appeal.
Most podcasts are nowadays transcribed as this gives audience the chance to read the content while or instead of listening to it. Similar to subtitling, it helps podcasts rank higher in search results and thus give it more exposure.
- Literature and Journalism
Authors and columnists who are hard-pressed for time tend to voice record their articles and books to be transcribed later. Furthermore, journalists often interview and collect statements via recording devices which require being transcribed to be used in the writing process.
Transcription services in the academic world benefit academicians and students alike. Many top universities and colleges are now offering their courses online free of charge. That content mostly consists of transcribed lectures.
- Market Research and Focus Groups
Launching a new product or service requires the utmost attention to feedback from early adaptors. That’s why focus groups are an integral part of the launching process. Every little detail and comment counts. Thus, big marketing firms always transcribe the whole process to be studied time and time again.
Types of Transcription
The three basic types of transcription are defined mostly by the level of detail meticulousness and include:
- Verbatim transcription
Although it also known as word-for-word transcription, verbatim transcription includes more than merely words. This type of transcription must accurately record the way the text is said. This includes sounds like stutters, repetitions, sighs, coughs, unclear words, and even a description of the ambient noises.
Verbatim transcription is mainly used in fields such as police investigations, legal matters, psychology and the Film industry.
- Edited transcription
In cases where verbatim transcription is difficult to understand, edited transcription comes in handy. It relies on the transcriptionist’s sound judgment to choose which bits of the audio to omit from the final text file. This format of transcription is perfect for speeches, conferences, and seminars.
- Intelligent transcription
The transcription process of the text here is not limited to being edited and having the incomprehensible bits and parts of audio omitted. It may also involve slight re-phrasing to make sure the message is correctly and accurately delivered. Medical transcription utilizes intelligent transcription perfectly.
How to Master Transcription
A transcriptionist must be an individual with great attention to detail and extraordinary focus. But skill alone can still hinder producing high quality transcripts. The right software allows the transcriptionist to capture words and sounds accurately by replaying, slowing down the audio or video, or filtering and equalizing sound for clarity.
In the case of captioning and subtitling, professional transcriptionists must also add a time stamp which marks where exactly in the video these words take place. This is mandatory for reattaching captions and subtitles to video and syncing text and the audiovisual content.
On an agency scale, a single transcription task must go through a pipeline to ensure ultimate accuracy. Seeing the grave importance of industry knowledge in some transcription cases, a project manager would delegate industry-specific tasks to field experts who are educated in the nuances of the industry jargon. Furthermore, it must undergo revision to ensure accuracy.
Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) vs. Human Transcription Services
Many have conversed with Alexa or Siri to speed up finding information or out of pure entertainment. However, it’s hard not to notice how these speech recognition algorithms lack the required accuracy for professional purposes. These features are also prone to getting pretty scrambled under certain circumstances like ambient noise, poor-quality audio, or the use of an unfamiliar accent.
Automated Speech Recognition software applies the same pattern to produce a text transcript, rendering it unreliable. It does, however, offer a cheaper alternative to the expensive, high-quality alternative that companies and professionals rely on.
Transcription Services and Security Concerns
By outsourcing a transcription service, companies willingly allow a third party to listen to confidential conversations, meetings, business deals, or patient medical history. This poses as a major concern for most companies considering using transcription services – and rightly so. Information security is pivotal on a personal and corporate level, no matter the industry it relates to.
To refute such concerns, qualified, professional transcription companies and service providers vow to abide by protocols and high-security standards such as the regulations enforced by ISO 27001 for information security. It is also a standard practice for top transcription services firms to sign a NDA.
Professional transcription service providers will most likely also have an HTTPS web address, in addition to SSL or TLS encrypted log-in portal which guarantees cyber security. Security also entails hiring in-house transcribers and not offshore transcription services or freelancers.
Transcription Will – and Must – Strengthen Your Business
Communication, and proper preservation and archiving of communication, is key to institutional success. Taking this lightly often ends in wasted time, effort, money, and potentially, opportunity as well.
Transcription services are a cornerstone to efficient and organized communication efforts by helping companies, firms, or even professional individuals keep accurate accounts of their most critical meetings, calls, and conferences.
While as become customary in many companies to delegate meeting minute taking to attendees, this task can often come off as counterproductive as it hinders the meeting attendee’s attention and participation in the conversation. By hiring a professional to take notes, all employees are guaranteed to be active participants in meetings. It also promises a more reliable and comprehensive record of the meeting that is easily accessible later.
Transcription also ensures accountability with clients and employees for all notes and tasks are accurate and nothing gets lost or falls between the cracks.
The process of transcription is time-consuming, laborious in nature, and very difficult to achieve with high accuracy standards. It is thus better to leave this task to a transcription services company. Let them do the heavy lifting and allow your employees to focus on their own tasks.
By hiring a professional transcription services provider, you are most likely to enjoy a wider array of language services that they offer. This allows international organizations to have their meetings or conferences translated to other languages and distributed to their global offices, allowing them to further strengthen their communication efforts.
Transcription is a tool for growth and a means of communication. It reduces overhead, response time, and workload while improving quality. If you’re ever in a moment of doubt, give professional transcription a try and you’ll soon be wondering how you never invested in transcription before.