When looking for the best transcription service, there are certain features and services which make a specific provider worth it. In this article, we take a short look at what transcription services are, the different types of transcription, and key features of the best transcription services available.

What Are Transcription Services?

A transcription service refers to a company (or individual) that converts speech to text. A transcript is the text form of the words in a sound or video file. Transcription is used by many companies, institutions or individuals for many purposes, including:

  • Meeting minutes.
  • Medical or health reports.
  • Subtitles on a TV or movie.
  • Published speeches.
  • Media interviews.
  • Court papers.

In general, there are two main types of transcription:

1. Audio Transcription

Audio speech-to-text services are used to transcribe a person speaking. In this case, a variety of audio-only situations exist, common uses include academic note-taking, teleconference meetings, and dictations. Audio recordings are transcribed mostly from pre-recorded audio or can be transcribed in (near-to) real-time such as in courts using stenographers. Audio transcription is more challenging than most people think as the quality of the recording, the presence of background noises, accents, or the use of unfamiliar words affect how accurately an audio recording can be transcribed. For more insight, you can view our audio transcription services here.

2. Video Transcription

Video transcription involves the same process as audio transcription but is used in the case of video, TV, and film (into text). Video transcription can include transcribing visual clues (at the request of the client) to ensure a more detailed transcript. Transcribing video can be used for on-screen purposes, such as captions, or for transcript publication separately from the video. For more insight, you can view our video transcription services here.

The best audio or video transcription services always employ trained transcribers who are highly experienced with these conditions Its important to choose a service with a demonstrated excellence in transcribing the subject matter and language used.

What to Look for When Choosing Transcription Services

Transcription services vary in their capability to produce accurate transcription. Many specialize in one type of transcription, while others specialize in specific industries, subject matter, languages or even accents. However, here are some important qualities that the best transcription services have in common: 

1. A Commitment to Quality

The quality or accuracy of a transcript is critical. This includes receiving a clearly formatted and legible document. Many clients depend on highly accurate transcripts for their decisions, awareness of key information or even to get a clear understanding of the situation they requested be transcribed. So, mistakes are simply unacceptable.

A top-quality transcription service should offer nothing less than 99% accuracy.

2. Thoughtfully Deployed Technology

Machine-driven audio transcription software is available offers a cheaper alternative to human transcription. Machine transcription services, however, still fails to achieve the required accuracy of human transcription and is dependent on many machine factors or limitations such as recording quality, dialect training, terminology, etc.

Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM and a few other technology giants that have been experimenting with using artificial intelligence for transcription for some years already still find their best results fall short of human transcribers. Machine transcription though has some use for single-speaker, North American accents, in particular at this stage (2020), which those technologies have been applying themselves to for some years.

3. Security Savvy

A few years ago, the European Union unveiled the GDPR and it has changed how companies manage data everywhere. The GDPR puts in place certain data privacy regulations for online businesses which interact with the European Union and sets the precedence for data security. It’s the most demanding data legislation anywhere in the world at present and transcription companies that abide by its compliance requirements would comply with almost any security legislation worldwide at present.

The best online transcription services know about this and have taken demonstrated steps to ensure that sensitive material stays protected.

4. Transcription Made Personal

Generalized transcription services are common but not many offer a personal touch to truly make the service valuable. Having custom requests managed is important. For instance, a customer using the best academic transcription service would require different features than a customer booking a job into the best medical transcription service. When selecting a transcription service always look for perks such as:

  • Customized transcript templates on offer.
  • Intelligent verbatim: the option to remove uhs and ums, repeated words or background noises.
  • Accommodation of special instructions.
  • Bespoke solutions involving specialized technology or services beyond traditional transcription if large volumes of audio or video need to be transcribed.

5. Pricing Structures That Make Sense

Finally, it’s important to choose a transcription service with an upfront pricing structure. Clear pricing from the outset indicates that a company has a clear grasp on the needs and complications which come with this line of work. There are a few different ways in which transcription services can be charged, including by the:

  • Audio minutes: Clients pay a fee according to how long the recording is, regardless of how long it takes the transcriptionist.
  • Actual time required: Clients pay for how long it took the transcriptionist, regardless of how long the audio is.
  • Number of words transcribed: Clients pay by the word.
  • Number of sentence/pages: Clients pay by sentence/page.
  • A sum-total for the entire project: Clients pay a lump sum for the project, regardless of how long the audio is or how long it took.
  • And others …

Choose the Best Transcription Service

The realm of transcription is vast and more intricate than is often realized. Like all industries, niches exist which can make finding the best transcription services a challenging task. We hope we have provided you with a few pointers on how to spot consistently top-rated transcription providers to help make that choice stress-free.