Voice Recognition Technology is Only Going to Improve

 

Voice Recognition Software- it almost sounds menacing “voice recognition software”, and it is for many of us who make our living transcribing audio and video recordings. But one must be realistic and ask, “Is the technology going away?” No. “Will research and development continue and will the technologies improve vastly?” Yes. Logically this tells us to prepare for the future.

As a transcriptionist, I find myself in the same position as the horse-drawn carriage builder found himself in when the automobile first hit the roads. I need to adapt, not fight or bury my head in the sand; so adapting I am. Persons using or considering using voice recognition software need to realize the only human component of the transcribing procedure that is being eliminated is the actual word-setting mechanics, converting a sound into a black and white form.

 

What Does Voice Recognition Software Replace?

 

I agree this can be done with acceptable results today, and most certainly in the near future it will be accomplished with near perfect results. So this mechanical procedure, in time, naturally needs to be accomplished by machine, but transcription is not merely mechanical character creation – it is more importantly the editing procedure of the document creation that will catch your eye, and cause you to rate a transcribed document as excellent or poorly crafted.

As an example, a few weeks ago I sent and unedited version of a document to one of my long-time clients by mistake. He replied in an email with “Tamara, this does not look like your work; did you subcontract it out?” He noticed the lack of editing, not a lack of black characters on a white page. In addition, he was not speaking of typos, for the document had undergone spell checking. Specifically, he noticed I had not yet made him sound like he had intended to be understood. It was this alone that tipped him off that something was amiss.

Capturing the client’s intentions and “voice” is still where a professional transcriptionist makes her mark and her money. Technology cannot achieve this service yet, although I’m sure they will try.  

“Tamara Bentzur is an amazing asset to anyone fortunate enough to work with her. As an internet talk-radio host, I have weekly transcription needs. Some of my colleagues use voice recognition transcribing software, but they never end up with a high quality product without significant time and effort spent “cleaning things up. Tamara’s services are one of the best business investment’s I’ve made. I count on her prompt, professional, high quality service every week for transcribing my radio show. I will never switch to voice recognition software. It cannot compete with Tamara’s service! Her excellent communication, writing and editing skills are invaluable addition to my business.”

Christy Cuellar-Wentz, M.A. – Co-founder and Host, www.Mommy-Muse.com

 

Traditional, Third-World Transcription 

Services will be the Hardest Hit

 

Traditional, third-world transcription services will be the hardest hit as the technology increases. I added the clarifier “traditional” to third-world transcription because I myself presently live in the “third world”, in Israel, but I am not a traditional third-world service provider. I am an American born, raised, and educated person who relocated to this country.

Traditional third-world providers utilize locals who possess English as a second language and who have achieved various levels of fluency. These service providers currently offer a more reliable product than the voice recognition technology can provide, for simple word creation, at little cost. Persons who don’t need editing beyond spell checking, who are typically the ones using such transcription services, will not experience such a notable change when going to a mechanically created document; this technological advancement will greatly affect the future of the traditional third world transcription market.

If you currently use or intend to use voice recognition software, but want the richness of a professionally edited document that keeps your “voice”, contact me for a quote.

“Tamara, I just wanted to say how blown away I am by your transcription services.  I recorded the first draft of my new book while I was on a 2 hour walk.  It was quite windy, there were countless background noises, and my thoughts jumped around.  Anyway, I thought you would simply transcribe my audio and then I would have to go over it again and rearrange it.  I almost fell off my chair when I got the 13 page transcription back and it read just like a book! I don’t know how you did it, but you are absolutely amazing.  You have a customer for life! Thank you so much.”

Scott Brandley, CEO Trust Guard,www.trust-guard.com

You can find me at:  tamara@outsourcetranscriptionservices.com, or on Skype at: ajinred. 

Posted by: tamara bentzur | November 15, 2009

Why Outsource Transcription Services.com Stands out From the Crowd

I want use this post to explain how I do my transcriptions at www.outsourcetranscriptionservices.com and why the way I do them allows me to stand out from the crowd of other transcription services.  There is nothing wrong with simply transcribing what you hear.  Rule number one is to type what you hear and although that is satisfactory for most people, there is still that extra touch that is often left out.

I truly focus on becoming a trusted resource for all my clients by providing intelligent, edited, and researched transcripts, and by “learning” my client’s business to provide the best possible product.  How do I do this?  Because most of my clients are long-term and repeat clients, I am able to learn the industry specific terminology for their fields.  I take the time to Google unfamiliar terminology and I am able to draw on that knowledge base for not only one client, but for others whose fields may overlap.  This saves my clients from wasting both time and money on unnecessary editing.  With each successive transcript, there are fewer “new” words, thus fewer edits on the client end.

There are several ways to deliver audio and/or video to me for transcription.  You can use email, FTP, URL index page, or a file sharing service.  I have a drop box for ease of delivery, which is free for clients to upload to: http://dropbox.yousendit.com/tamarabentzur5612437

I am comfortable transcribing both audio and video.  I use Express Scribe for the majority of my audios, which are usually transcribed into Microsoft Word format, but I use Inqscribe for my videos or for transcripts that will be exported into plain text or HTML format.

My transcription experience includes working with multiple experts and authorities in the fields of:

    • Entertainment, Infomercials, and scripts (including burned in time stamp requirements)
    • Marketing, Marie Forleo, Marcia Hoeck
    • SEO or Search Engine Optimization, SEO Mentor
    • IT, Peepcode, Alt.NET
    • Emerging Communications, one of the most exciting is eComm USA as well as eComm Europe, Ideas Project.com
    • Social Media, thought leaders in this area, including Social Media Club
    • Doctoral Thesis
    • University Lectures, Prof. Andreas Weigend
    • Podcasts, Mommymuse, Stories of Survival
    • Webinars, Walking on Water.org
    • Case Studies, ACT Venture Partners
    • Author Book Notes

Although I do transcribe verbatim when requested, most of my clients prefer that I clean up their dialog, removing false starts and removing ums and ahs, to make the conversation flow more smoothly, which ensures better readability.  I strive to keep the speaker’s “voice” so it sounds correct but without sounding sterile.  Each speaker has their own style, their own special phrases, all of which make each speaker’s “voice” unique and “them”.  This is oftentimes difficult for foreign transcription services, whose employees may not have English as their mother tongue.

Upon request, I will format dialog using headings/subheadings, bullet points, numbered lists, or periodic time stamps.

My clients can rest assured that they will receive accurate transcripts because accents are never a problem. I have a great ear and have worked with English accents including:

    • Canadian
    • British
    • Scottish
    • Australian
    • South African
    • Latin American
    • French
    • Japanese

If there ever is uncertainty about what is said, due to audio quality, or accent, I time stamp that area in red to make it easier for my client to find and correct.

You may find transcriptions that are cheaper, but when you want high quality, great efficiency, and the comfort of building a relationship you can trust, you’ll never find better.  My clients are never just a number to me.  They know that even if my schedule is a bit full when they contact me, because we have built a trusted relationship, I will do my upmost to work them in to get their project back to them when they need it, if not beforehand.

Outsourcing transcription services  is a rapidly growing field.  There is always the option to farm out the work to the cheapest service provider you can find.  I am not one of those providers.  I pride myself in my professionalism, my enthusiasm, my competence, but most importantly in my ability to become a long-term part of your team.  I believe that having someone you can count on, especially in a pinch, is often worth its weight in gold.

I debated whether or not to post this in the blog; it seems like such a setup to make my point. Here it is; it’s just too funny. I’m telling you folks, I’m not making this up.

My blog entry dated June 9th, 2009, dealt with the concept of using foreign transcription services and that while they may be a bargain upfront financially, you need to think it through. I commented that they may know English but it’s not their mother tongue and sometimes they just don’t “get it”the gist or the nuance. Conclusion: how can you trust that your words will appear the way you intended when using a foreign bargain service?

Late one night, a few days after that post, I received a comment on my blog from just such a foreign transcription company. I was sure it was going to be a rebuttal, explaining that they do get it, and understand what it is they are typing. This was not the case at all; in fact, apparently the website moderator for this company doesn’t understand what he reads either, since he requested permission to post my article on their website.

So I tactfully wrote him back and informed him that I do not think it would be wise for them to publish my observations and my warnings to potential buyers out there, that foreign transcriptions services are not necessarily the bargains they seem to be.

It’s ironic at best. Yes, these bargain services can read and type English, they may understand 85-90% of what they type, but they don’t get the implications. It can happen to you, too. Your words can be put to paper in such a way as to cause you much time re-editing and if the erroneous phrase is missed by your final edit, it can cause you to distribute misleading information.

Remember the old automobile oil commercial that had the tag line “You can pay me now, or pay me later”? The point was; it’s better to pay a little more for good oil now, than to pay for more expensive repairs later. The same principle applies here. Your time is valuable; pay a little more for a native English speaker to transform your spoken words and ideas into print, the way you intended them to sound, and save yourself the headache of fixing the problems later.

Posted by: tamara bentzur | July 7, 2009

Technically Correct is Not Always Correct

My name is Hezy – I’m Tamara’s husband. I asked her if I could write a short article for her blog because I just learned something from her about the art, if you will, of transcribing.

My area of expertise is in identity theft and its direct correlation/contribution to terrorism. My wife wanted me to read a lecture she had just finished transcribing for one of the professors she does work for. The topic in this lecture was dealing with the misconception of identity anonymity and she thought I might find it interesting.

He is a long time customer and very pleased with her service. Keep in mind; I’m reading for content, not editing purposes. About one third of the way into the document, I assumed she must have done this one late at night or during one of her crunch periods. Overall it was fine, but some of the sentence structure was a bit off and sometimes it sounded choppy, not her usual near perfect work.

Obviously I was concerned, so I asked if she had already uploaded the document, to which she replied she had. She asked, “Why?” So I told her some of the sentences had not been edited correctly. She smiled and I thought it was one of those “and now you’re an English major too?” smiles, but it wasn’t.

Turns out this particular professor was not born in the United States. He is very well respected in his field, but English is his second language so his sentence structures will be a bit different from one whose first language is English.

She went on to explain that although she does make grammatical corrections, she is protecting his “voice,” meaning she wants the transcript to be correct but it needs to sound like him, for his students who are reading it. It would be odd for them to read their professor’s lecture, which they had already attended, in perfect native English. They are accustomed to in-class lectures being in his voice, and the ideas structured in his own unique way.

I never stopped to consider that there are different levels of editing. This kind of delicate attention cannot be performed by just any transcriptionist; absolutely never by a foreign bargain transcription service. This ability comes only from a real professional, and by learning the client – over time.

When searching for the right transcriptionist, you should consider more than the cost, and turnaround time.  True, we all have money and time constraints, but sometimes in an effort to be thrifty, we cost ourselves more of both.

With the Internet, it’s possible to hire inexpensive transcription services to convert the spoken word, (notes – seminars – interviews – podcasts – lectures, etc.), to the written page.  In general, the inexpensive services are foreign transcription services (FTS).  While it is a cheap alternative, it can necessitate you making many edits before publication.  More importantly, it may reduce your personal voice, which can negatively impact your profits.

Your personal voice is how your customers have come to know you and it is what they feel comfortable with. You must carefully consider who will take your spoken words and reduce them to black and white.  An FTS may have talented individuals in their stable of transcriptionists, who have a good grasp of the English language, but can they detect nuancesWhat about colloquialismsDo they “get it”?

Nuances, colloquialisms, and regional humor are absolutely beyond the scope of foreign transcription servicesIf you want the words that you speak to appear on paper the way you intended, those inexpensive foreign services are not for you.  You will need to employ a domestic service or individual, but – there is another option.

Find an individual that provides transcription services who now lives in a different country, but (and this is a big but), who spent the majority of his or her life/career in your country.  You may find these individuals will have lesser monetary demands in their adopted countries; thereby their rates generally are more affordable.  And because they were a part of your culture prior to their relocation, they still have the knowledge and understanding of business and your business environment.

The transcriptionist you select is an extension of you.  Choose carefully; what may seem like a good deal may cost you in the long run.

Posted by: tamara bentzur | June 2, 2009

What Success Takes – A Wonderful New Book

I had the great pleasure of transcribing all the interviews and chapter notes for Garrett Pierson’s wonderful new book, What Success Takes. I was pleasantly surprised while I listened to the interviews because it was unlike so many other self-help, “rah-rah” books. It was a wonderful journey of discovery for me, an inspiration to hear these real, down to Earth conversations from people who have all found success in their own lives, defined by what they hold most dear. Whether they are multimillionaires or not, they realize that what matters most are relationships with employees, friends, family, and God. Their greatest joy is found helping others find their own successes.

I realize I have held false beliefs about success and what it takes to succeed, and that my definition of success is not dependent on what others believe it is. I no longer fear failure; it’s an opportunity for growth, and I know now that when I fall it’s okay – I’ll just fall “forward”. I am ready to focus on what my strengths are to enable me to provide value in some way to those around me, and to discover ways to overcome the challenges that may come my way. These are just a few of the nuggets I took with me and I know you will find many more of them between the pages of What Success Takes.

Do yourself a favor; take a moment to visit the website. You can download the CD of the book for free!

book-200x200www.whatsuccesstakes.com

Posted by: tamara bentzur | May 25, 2009

Outsourcing is a Win-Win Situation – I say ‘Go for it!’

The world has changed so much in the last few years.  I stayed home raising children for several of them, and when I decided to get back into the job market, the whole landscape had shifted on me.  I was disconcerted in the beginning, frankly a bit fearful and worried about how to go about the whole job hunting and interviewing process after so many years out of the game.

Surprisingly,  it has turned out to be an exciting time.  I discovered remote (outsource) work by sheer accident while searching Google late one night.  I discovered a site that puts potential clients and service providers together with a bidding platform.  All of a sudden the world seemed so much smaller than it had before.  I discovered that job opportunities are no longer dictated by location.  With the explosion of the outsource market, we are able to expose our talents to a much wider audience than every before, and are now able to work with clients from all over the world.

There are many benefits for both sides.

CLIENTS:

  • Clients pay only for work performed.
  • Insurance costs are eliminated.
  • “Water cooler” breaks are a thing of the past.
  • The pool of quality service providers has expanded because the barrier of location has been erased.
  • Work can be assigned on short term or long term basis with ease.

SERVICE PROVIDERS:

  • Work can be performed from anywhere.
  • Commuting to work is a thing of the past, which not reduces our stress, but is also better for the environment.
  • Income once allotted for gas, wardrobe, and meals can be used for more enjoyable things.
  • Have the ability to set work hours and time off.

Today, with most people having access to high speed Internet, outsourcing is a wonderful solution.  I say go for it; it’s a win-win situation!

I work hard at delivering “intelligent” transcription services that are customer driven.  I have billed over 2,000 hours on transcriptions in less than a year and a half, and have nothing but delighted clients.  Most of them are long-term assignments.  In this difficult economy, how have I made myself stand out from the crowd?

It is important for me to build a relationship of trust with all of my clients, which is so necessary in this modern, remote work environment.  I strive to make each client know they are not just a number to me, but that I am an extension of their business.

If you wish to work with someone who will “learn” your business and make your transcription needs run smoothly and seamlessly, I am just what you are looking for.

Check out my user profile at oDesk for tests I’ve taken, portfolio items, as well as client feedback:  http://www.odesk.com/d/view_profile.php

or visit my personal website at:  http://www.outsourcetranscriptionservices.com

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