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It is well established that you are able to work smarter, better, and faster when outsourcing your documentation work.  Today we can focus instead on other revenue creating or generating tasks for your business.  The two most important things to look for in a Professional Transcription Company are optimization of your time and money.  However, there are other factors that you should consider such as local language, accent, and speech patterns.  Local professional services can definitely help with easier and more accurate transcribing services as their historical work experience would match with local culture, accent, slang, jargon, diction, etcetera.  However, these abilities are not irreplicable or insurmountable by others.

If you hire a local transcription company, you will benefit from–

  1. Local talent having the ability to comprehend the theme of the audio or video recording and incorporating the speech or conversation contextually, which greatly helps you in retaining the culture and lingo.
  2. Local transcriptionist would be more acutely aware of deadlines and would assist in timely completion.
  3. Face-to-face meetings with the local service provider can be easily facilitated if they are in the same county or city.

Earlier, we used to heavily rely and trust on stores, shops, or service providers that were geographically closer to meet our household or workplace requirements and deliver our products.  However, with the advent of global shipping and delivery companies, the spotlight is more on efficiency, accuracy, competitive pricing, and timeliness.  Similarly, unless as a customer, if you prefer meeting transcription service professionals in person and conduct your business one-on-one, picking a provider geographically closer to you doesn’t give you any advantage.  Affordable price point, adherence to quality and speed should be the factors in selecting a transcriptionist, no matter if they are sitting halfway across the world.

Since we’ve moved on to digital recordings from tapes, microcassettes, disk drives, etcetera, and since there are a whole lot of avenues to share access to digital audio or video material anywhere in the world, geographical distance is no longer a criterion.  These days, Professional Transcription Companies offer a whole lot of security for the customers’ proprietary and/or confidential material, like data encryption, anti-virus protection, firewall systems, and real-time monitoring of workflow progress.  So you need not be unduly worried anymore about the security of your digital material, as there are usually multiple checks and balances in place.

Some companies even go to the extent of auto-deleting all relevant materials, upon the customer expressing satisfaction after confirming receipt of all services.  By auto-delete, it means having a scheduler tool or a software program in place that will automatically, permanently erase all the customer’s materials upon approval from the customer.  Though this might sound a bit extreme, it does give the customer peace of mind and goes an additional distance in displaying the trustworthiness of the transcription provider.

So at the end of the day, when assessing the true value of a transcription service you should give more weightage to experience and skill level than geographical location.  Assessing skill level is quite easy, as any genuine transcription company would be happy to produce a sample document upon request, with which you could test them to measure their competence.

Additionally, while scouting for your best value-for-money transcription service provider, you could have the following pointers in mind, or even ask these questions to your potential candidates.

  1. What is their experience?
  2. What process do they have in place to access your materials?
  3. Do they use any software for transcription? If so, which ones?
  4. How do they control audio or video content with playback?
  5. Can they transcribe verbatim and add time-stamps?
  6. What is their quality control procedure?

The answers to these questions and the way in which they’re answered would very well give you a good idea of the professionalism and the expertise of the transcriptionist.

Also keep in mind that transcription companies almost always have well-defined websites listing out the services offered, as well as feedback and testimonials from their customers.  They have the flexibility and robustness to take up any kind of transcription project and tailor it to suit your needs, while at the same time being price sensitive.  It’s human nature to think that a small project or requirement could very well be handled by a freelancer, who could also possibly offer much lower prices.  However, the reality is different as an established service provider would have a well-set process in place that would take care of everything end to end and handhold you throughout the entire process.

From an industry standpoint, specific fields require specific understanding of industry jargon such as meeting the daily demands of medical, legal, and law enforcement departments or companies.  Some of the questions or pointers to keep in mind when you are looking to hire a professional transcription firm are determining if they understand local industry jargon, ways in which they ensure accuracy, finding out their pricing options that best suit your needs, checking out their marketing and social media accounts to evaluate and gauge the quality of their services/expertise, and also check to see their formatting and exporting methods and outputs.

You should very well wish to ensure a thorough and complete assessment of these professionals and the transcription services that they offer and if they are well suited/matched to your industry as well as local prerequisites. In this current globalized and ever changing world of ours, it is equally important to weigh all options and thoroughly vet the entire work process in order to make well-informed decisions about your transcription service needs.

“I work in the transcription industry.”  Standard, templated response when you enquire someone as to what they do for a living, and if they happen to be a transcriptionist.

Industry?  How so?  The word “industry” is defined as, economic activity dealing with processing of raw materials and manufacture of products in factories.

With rapid shrinking of job opportunities, erstwhile transcribers leaving for greener pastures, ever reducing pay scales, disappearing job security, and companies large and small shutting shop at an alarming pace, the phrase “transcription industry” seems no longer justified.

When we talk of transcription, medical transcription is what comes to most people’s minds instantaneously.  And justifiably so, because an overwhelming percentage of employment and business growth has for long been in the transcription of medical data.  About 9 of every 10 people one would encounter in the “transcription industry” used to be medical transcriptionists.  Now what has befallen this bellwether industry?

The field of healthcare has seen rapid technological advancements, innovations like voice recognition software, automation, AI, etc.  Companies that couldn’t adapt to these huge market disruptions have fallen by the wayside.  Companies that did adapt, have struggled and are somehow holding on, but there still seems to be a significant amount of catharsis.  Things are not so hunky-dory anymore for medical transcription.  Business owners as well as employees are not taking things for granted any longer as the risk of further disruptions is quite high.

Employees have had to train, teach and get educated with the latest techniques and tools.  Employers have had to deploy software, monitor market trends and align company goals, improve security systems, temper revenue expectations, and even let go some of their valued staff as automation and operating costs keep eating into their profit margins.

This has now become literally a struggle for survival!

Pay packets have frozen.  Hikes and emoluments have frozen.  Promotions have frozen.  Heck, even your current job and employer most probably might be in a state of deep freeze!  Barely any new medical transcription business opportunities.  If at all anything comes up, there’s still those razor-thin margins one has to contend with.  Cost of software, infrastructure, salaries, etc. going up and up constantly, but possibility of increased rates from clients is quite bleak and, in most cases, non-existent.  Client expectations on quality of medical transcripts and adherence to turnaround times are still sky high.

And adding fuel to fire is inflation and cost of living.  Year after year, these two factors keep increasing without fail, further adding to the burden of running a business, holding onto a job, and keeping folks at office and at home contended and happy.  Stress levels are high.  Frustration is high.  Despondency is super high.

Therefore, it is only but natural for staff and senior management alike to search for better avenues of income generation, though a constant search for greener pastures, but now aided and spurred on by desperation.  An obvious choice is non-medical transcription.  General transcription (GT) and Legal transcription (LT).

From the management’s perspective, let’s list out the advantages of non-medical transcription, which is simply anything other than medical transcription.

  1. Reduced learning curveMedical transcription training requires not just good keyboard skills but also savvy medical systems’ knowledge and formats, protocols, client specifications, HIPAA rules, etc. None of that is needed in GT or LT.  A sharp ear for details and deft transcription skills would do a world of good.
  2. Business scope — Every professional and every company, institution, and organization are potential customers! Media companies, law firms, podcasters, speakers, market researchers, filmmakers, book writers, financiers, product companies, conference hosts, college students, professors, and so on and so forth.  The list goes on and on.  The world is full of opportunities!
  3. Lesser demands — Unlike the medical transcription field where timelines and accuracy and error percentages are set in stone, there is less rigidity and more flexibility with general and legal transcription. As long as due diligence is done and the customer is explained of the full process, transcription in the GT and LT fields is a bit more relaxed, less demanding, and therefore more enjoyable for the staff and management alike.
  4. Knowledge & insight — General transcription is such a generic term that it basically encompasses anything and everything under the sun. One could come across topics as diverse as Keynesian economics, landscape architecture, sports science, arthropod palaeontology, quarterly results and press releases, celebrity interviews, etc., just to name a few from the vast ocean of subjects.  Knowledge gained thus and the insight, even if just a glimpse, is immeasurable.

Documentation is here to stay.  People keep needing this in hard forms, for example as a printed report, or in soft forms, for example as a webpage.  More than 80% of all content online is in textual form.  All that’s not going to vanish or change overnight.

Documentation is the backbone of the legal and litigation process all over the world.  Hard copies, handwritten notes, printed reams of paper, case filings, etc. are absolutely vital for law enforcement, administration and judiciary to keep chugging along without any major hiccups or lacunae.  And in spite of litigation process automation in certain aspects, legal transcription is still a critical, functional and supportive activity and a crucial link in the entire litigation process, which the back office processes of our court system is heavily dependent upon.

Though change is constant, and the only thing constant is change, transcription is not going to go away anytime soon.  Of course, as with all other things in the world, as human civilization advances, traditional ways of working are going to be replaced by more efficient and effective tools and strategies.  Technology is just one part of that construct.

Transcribers, just like all other workers, have to adapt and equip quickly in order to be nimble enough to sense and grab opportunities.  In this fast-paced, evolving world, every challenge for you is an opportunity for someone else!

Clear, Concise, and Cogent.  Three C’s that should be at the top of any conversation that any customer support executive has with any client – big, medium or small.  What’s this got to do with demand and supply, you might wonder.

Everything!

Let me explain in layman terms.  To begin with, here’s a rhetorical question.  What do you think are the most important things when speaking to a potential customer for the first time?

  1. Set the scene.
  2. Roll out the verbal red carpet.
  3. Engage in an engaging conversation.
  4. Identify customer’s pain points.
  5. Provide clear-cut solutions.
  6. Goal setting and reassuring.

Piquing their curiosity, holding their interest, making them agree, and………… clinching the deal!  From the time man started walking on two legs, that’s how it’s been done to turn curious parties into happy clients.

All in one word — promises.  That all-encompassing, all-conquering, invaluable tool for infatuating a customer, making him go blind in love and trust, and open his wallet ready to forgo his hard-earned money, all before any real demonstration of your unseen superpowers.

Throw promises at your customers dime a dozen, keep bombarding them with wonderful images of your incredible skills, and what do you get in return from them?  Trust, faith, loyalty.  Trust on delivery of promises.  Faith on business reputation.  Loyalty from just mere words spoken and exchanged, with an e-mail or two added here and there for the sake of reassurance.

In the field of transcription and content management, this has been the norm since time immemorial.  However, once deals are clinched, contracts are signed and the ink goes dry, up comes the little matter of execution.  And isn’t that a different ballgame altogether!  Okay, now let us just hold this thought for a moment and talk about workflow patterns.

Transcription orders can largely be classified into 3 buckets based on the client’s needs and the frequency of available work — one-time, occasional, and regular.  Companies that are out there delving into all kinds of transcription would have noticed work orders and contracts coming in quite regularly for medical transcription, with more often than not accounts or projects needing 24-hour deadlines, every day, day in and day out, 5 or even 6 days a week.

Even quite a lot of legal transcription work would fall into a similar category as above, though unannounced spurts or slumps in work volume are much more pronounced in the litigation industry than the healthcare industry.  However, given the traditional, hierarchical structure of law firms and how time-conscious the attorneys themselves are, such fluctuations in documentation needs are occasional and can be mostly handled by an efficient team, provided the transcribers are constantly aware and anxious about client’s needs and also have the added benefit of past experiences to anticipate work pattern inconsistencies.

General transcription though is one tough nut to crack.  Such work orders usually fall into the ‘one-time’ or ‘occasional’ buckets, which means managements need to have a team constantly on standby in order to tap into this segment and be able to grab opportunities.  Easier said than done, simply because the project scope cannot be defined in advance until the last minute when the work order finally comes in.  No advance info on size and timelines of work order, hence no way to prepare and allocate resources and be ready.  Companies have to be nimble enough to deploy transcriptionists at a moment’s notice to execute GT work orders, but at the same time cannot expect long-term deployment.

As a result of this, there will most probably be some redundancy and benching of transcribers assigned to GT workflow.  Depending on how good the individual’s core competencies are, they can be redeployed to do legal or medical transcription projects whenever GT work orders have dried up.  However, there’s an innate risk in moving around resources.  This risk is about maintaining quality levels commensurate with the core LT/ MT team’s service delivery and as per client’s expectations.

Routine and familiarity play prominent roles in determining how quickly a cross-trained transcriber adapts to new accounts, new projects and brings oneself up to speed.  If managements are sensitive and recognize this fact and are able to identify the perfect resource at the perfect time for deployment and redeployment, it would do them a world of good in satisfying customer needs while at the same time retaining talent.

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