Posted by: tamara bentzur | June 9, 2009

Finding The Right Transcriptionist – It’s More Than Price and Turnaround

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.



  1. Hi,

    Can I use your article on my website ?


    • Hello Prakash,

      Thank you for your interest in using my article for your website, but I must decline. I prefer not to share my articles with other transcription service companies. I must admit I was a bit curious in your wish to use it. The point I was making in my article was that foreign transcription companies like yours, whose English is a second language, may not always “get it” or understand the fine nuances that take place in dialog. It is a skill that someone with English as their mother tongue would have.

  2. I came across this because I was searching for Prakash Patodia — he had done a transcription job for me that was very quick and entirely excellent.

    • Hi Charles, I am glad your work with Prakash was excellent. Please don’t misunderstand me. I was not saying that foreign transcription companies do not have very qualified transcriptionists, but there are different types of transcription needs. There are verbatim transcripts and those where editing and clean up is requested. There are also transcripts that have industry specific terms that can be very tricky for a one-time job. They tend to improve over time with a client as you learn their business. I rarely do verbatim transcripts. Most of my work requires not just removing ums and ahs, but my clients often want me to make them sound better. I’m sure you’re aware that what is acceptable verbal English does not come across as well when it’s reduced to black and white. There are also colloquialisms and regional phrases that can be very difficult for a non-native English speaker to catch. There is room for everyone. My question to Prakash was that I was uncertain why he would want to print my article because it would not be a benefit to his website. Again, I am happy you were pleased with his work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: