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Securing Transcription Services – Key Questions to Ask your Transcription Company

Are you looking for transcription services but aren’t too sure about the details?  Don’t worry, you are not alone.  Many people seeking transcription services have a general idea of what they want, but are unsure of the specifics.

There are three main areas you are most likely, already clear about.  You want your dictations or audio recordings typed into highly accurate and quality-assured written transcripts. You want a reliable, efficient and easy to use transcription service. And of increasing importance, particularly in light of recent worldwide security breaches, you want the service to be secure, your data safe, and your privacy considerations paramount.

About the Transcription Process

People and companies in sectors including the medical, legal, insurance, research, academic, media and finance sectors all use transcription services. Essentially transcription is the process of turning the spoken word into text.

Variations on the transcription service required include how many speakers are in the audio file, whether the speakers need to be identified, whether a specific template is required, the quality of the audio recording, and when the transcript needs to be returned to the client. Typically, files with one speaker attract less cost than files with many speakers.

A single person speaking in an audio file is called a dictation. The speaker “dictates” into a Dictaphone, microphone or smartphone app, records their dictations, and then sends the audio to their transcription company to be transcribed.

Recordings of interviews and focus groups have two or more speakers in the audio. The interview or focus group is recorded onto a digital recorder, smartphone app or other recording software, and then sent to their transcription company to be transcribed.

About the Transcription Process – Key Questions to Ask

For the process of transcription, key questions to ask of your transcription company are:

  1. What is your pricing for the type of transcription services I need? (The number of speakers in an audio file is often a key determiner of price.)
  2. I want my transcripts typed into my template, can you do this? (Why not ask your transcription company to type directly into your letterhead template? It saves you time.)
  3. I need Speaker Identification – is this an extra cost? (Depending on the number of speakers, most transcription companies charge for speaker identification. It’s best to know the costs upfront, so you don’t get a nasty surprise at the end of the job!)
  4. Most of my audio files are of good audio quality, with the exception of one. Will this impact price? (If you are planning on getting transcription done on a regular basis, consider investing in a good quality recording device, such as a Dictaphone or digital audio recorder.)
  5. When can you get the finished transcript back to me? (For clients who are running on tight deadlines, this can be critical. Make sure you tell your transcription company if you have critical deadlines, as they can often accommodate your strict timeline.)
  6. I need the written transcripts to be highly accurate. What quality assurance processes do you have in place to ensure this? (Companies which are ISO:9001 accredited – an internationally recognised standard for quality management systems – should be able to demonstrate how they deliver quality-assured transcription services.)

Are the Transcription Services Reliable, Efficient and Easy to Use?

You’ve sorted out questions about the transcription process. Now it’s time to investigate whether the transcription company provides reliable, efficient and easy to use transcription services.

By this stage I suspect you’ve already formed an opinion on the transcription company, determined by how well they’ve responded to your initial queries. If your experience didn’t go well, it’s time to seek out another company to help you with your transcription needs.

If you’ve found the company helpful so far, the next way to test their efficiency, reliability and ease of use, is to actually use them! Give them a go. If you have a few reservations, give the company a smaller batch of files to return, as a test run. If the test run is successful, you’ve got yourself a new transcription company to use.

But before you commit, just one last check to do – privacy and security.

Do the Transcription Services meet your Privacy and Security Needs?

Although strong security and privacy considerations have always been important, it has become critical in recent years, and now forms part of a standard due diligence checklist for more and more companies wishing to ensure the data they provide to a transcription company remains securely protected, safe and confidential.

Privacy and Security – Key Questions to Ask

  1. Can I have a copy of your Privacy Policy? (If a privacy policy is not easily obtained, go elsewhere. It’s not worth the risk.)
  2. What security measures do you have in place to protect my data and the data of my clients? (Good responses include: compliance with relevant national privacy principles and acts, whether subcontractors sign confidentiality agreements upon working with that company, and details of how they maintain a secure website.)
  3. Where are my files stored, and when are they deleted from your service? (If the company can’t tell you how or when your data is deleted or purged, find one who can.)
  4. I would like to have a dedicated confidentiality agreement in place. Do you have one?

If the transcription company you have chosen meets all these requirements, then it’s time to test them out.

I hope you find these questions helpful. Please use them as a checklist to mark the transcription companies you approach to provide you with quality transcription services. If you get a tick against all these items, then you’ve probably secured yourself a reliable, efficient and easy to use transcription company who is serious about your privacy and security concerns, and will provide you with highly accurate, quality-assured transcripts.

Take the plunge, and let me know how you go!

About Catherine Byrne

Catherine's work with Pacific Transcription spans many areas, including writing and design, business development, training, and of course, keeping abreast of emerging trends and new products which enhance transcription and dictation experiences for clients.
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