Verbatim versus “Modified” Verbatim Transcription: Finding skilled transcriptionists!

modified verbatim style, verbal transcription, Verbatim Style Insurance Transcription, verbatim style transcripts, verbatim transcriptionVerbatim Style, how is it different?

So you’ve heard the term “verbatim style” transcription, but what does it mean and how is it different from what you might think of as “normal” or traditional transcription?  More importantly, what kind of transcription do you need for your purposes?  Is it important for every word and sound to be transcribed, do you need it to be grammatically correct with the right sentence structure and punctuation, or do you need a combination of the two?
To start, let’s define the three styles as the following:

Professional – Used for legal documents and letters and other forms of professional written communication.  In this style, the transcriptionist will edit and correct the final copy to create a professional sounding document.
Verbatim – Used when the transcript needs to read exactly the way the recording or audio sounds, including all the ums, ahs, stuttered sounds, and partial words.  Everything, including any false starts, repetitions, grammatical errors etc. are left unchanged.  This style is typically ideal for insurance recorded statements, depositions, research transcription, PhD interviews, market research interviews, movie scripts, B-roll transcription, and other projects where HOW something is said is equally as important as WHAT’s being said.

Modified Verbatim Style:

Typically preferred by authors, journalists, bloggers and others who need to know exactly what was said on a recording but don’t necessarily need the extreme detail of verbatim transcription.  This style involves transcription followed by light editing.  The transcriptionist still captures every word said on the recording, but edits out parts like filler words (ums, ahs, ers, etc.), ambient sounds and non-verbal communication as well as false starts (incomplete sentences), repetitions, and grammatical errors. Some minor paraphrasing may also be done without changing the meaning of what is being said; however, it does not ever mean to reword what was said! Transcription services need to be very careful to still type exactly what is said when doing modified verbatim and not to reword or rephrase any of the speech as they might for professional transcription.
Another issue to consider when choosing a style of transcription you need is the overall quality of the audio.

Verbatim Style and it’s connection to audio quality:

Several factors can add to the difficulty of transcribing an accurate verbatim transcript.  These include:

  • Audios with background noise or overall poor recording quality
  • Audios with three or more speakers
  • Audios where the speakers are difficult to hear or very loud
  • Recordings where the speakers have thick accents
  • Audios that require time-stamps at places where the speakers could not be understood
  • Audios that require the transcriptionist to look up or verify data such as medical terms, cities, streets, or names

So once you’ve determined what kind of transcription best serves your needs, the next step is finding a qualified transcriptionist and that’s where the real challenge comes in.  As you can see from the information above, Verbatim and Modified Verbatim transcription are the most challenging styles to transcribe and only transcriptionists specially trained in this style should be considered.  Here’s why:  We all have an “automatic editing ear” when we listen to human speech.  Our editing ear listens to a speaker and then edits out extraneous words and sounds and searches for the basic or true meaning in what the person is saying.  This might even include modifying words the speaker says to fit our own perspective and understanding.

The same thing happens for the transcriptionist, even an experienced one, unless they’ve been trained specifically to override the tendency to edit!  Verbatim style transcription is a skill that is learned and then needs to be practiced on a regular basis, otherwise the skill diminishes. Here’s an interesting fact: A skilled legal or medical transcriptionist might not make a good verbatim transcriptionist because the skill set is different.

At Transcription Express, we specialize in Verbatim and Modified Verbatim transcription.  To ensure our transcriptionists produce high quality documents, designed to our client’s unique verbatim style requirements, each transcriptionist who works with us spends a week with us in an “Art of Verbatim Style” training class conducted at our on-site training lab.  By doing this, we can ensure each transcriptionist has overcome the desire to edit what he or she hears and can produce an accurate Verbatim style document.  Taking it one step further, our goal is for all verbatim documents produced by our transcriptionists to be done exactly the same way using the same techniques.  In this way, we ensure our clients receive accurate documents, done to their specifications, no matter who may have transcribed it.  And we don’t stop there!  Transcripts submitted by each transcriptionist are regularly and routinely checked for adherence to our verbatim guidelines to ensure that their “editing ear” doesn’t start creeping back into their transcripts.

Transcription Rates – What are the factors that help you get the best pricing?

business transcription, insurance transcription, purchasing transcription services, transcription services company, verbatim style transcriptionTranscription Rates - Things to Consider:

There are many things to consider when you are negotiating for the best transcription rates.  If you believe you will need the services of a transcription vendor on a regular basis, it’s best to find one you can have an ongoing relationship to improve your ability to get the best transcription rates.  This not only provides continuity and familiarity for both parties, but it also gives you better negotiating power when trying to get a fair and reasonable price.  Overall, you will find that most transcription vendors value long-term relationships with actual clients versus those with one-time projects.

Many factors are involved when a transcription company sets their transcription rates.  Some of these factors include how quickly you need your transcript, the length of the audio, the quality of the audio, the style of transcription (i.e., verbatim, legal), the language/dialect, the number of speakers, what type of document layout you would like, and whether or not the pricing is done per page of transcript or per minute of audio.  Transcription rates reflect all or part of each of these categories typically.

Customer Tips for getting the best transcription rates:

Here are some more tips to help you understand more about the factors involved when pricing transcription rates:

Timing:  One of the things you can do to minimize the cost of your transcription is to plan ahead.  Sometimes those last minute needs cannot be avoided; however, when you can, give your vendor as much lead time as possible.  Transcription companies may charge additional fees for “rush” projects, so planning ahead can help potentially save you a significant amount of money.

Audio length The length of your audio is also a factor when determining transcription rates.  For non-medical transcription, most transcription companies charge either by the audio minute or by the page.  One of the factors that greatly impacts this portion of the price is the format of your document.  Less white space on a page as you might have with a single speaker may increase your per page cost.  However, if you request a format with larger margins, bigger font, less lines per page, this will also affect the overall transcription rates to your benefit from a price and readability standpoint.

Audio Quality Be sure your recording is the best it can be.  This is helpful, not only to the transcriptionist, but most importantly, in achieving the best possible quality transcript.  Even a very skilled transcriptionist can only be as accurate as the recording, and if your recording has areas that are muffled, static, volume changes, etc., the finished product will reflect this.  If you require the areas that are inaudible to be noted as such with a time stamp, some vendors charge extra for this service.

Verbatim Transcription?  Legal Style Transcription?  The style of transcription you’re requiring is also a factor when determining transcription rates.  Are you looking for verbatim style transcription (every word and sound typed exactly as spoken) or legal style (grammar and sentence structure edited for a professional look and sound)?  These transcription styles vary greatly, and the transcription company may have different transcription rates for each of these.

Translation If you require your audio to be translated into a language other than English, this will very likely increase your cost, sometimes substantially, depending on the language and what type of translation you need.

Number of Speakers & Speaker Designation:  Plan on paying a little bit more for your transcription if you have several speakers and if you are also requiring each speaker to be designated throughout the transcript.  If you do have multiple speakers, providing the spellings of all individuals involved is extremely helpful, especially if you are requesting speaker designation throughout your transcript.

Editing & Formatting:  Transcription rates may have additional costs added on if you’re requiring a certain style of formatting for your transcription.  When possible, stick to a basic format but be sure and get what you need.

As mentioned above, the editing process is a much smoother and quicker process when it’s done with a clean, clear audio.  Many transcription companies will assess a fee for audios that are difficult to transcribe from, which goes back to my earlier comment on the importance of procuring the best sound audio quality as possible.

Per Page or Per Minute?  Depending on how much talking there is on your audio, paying by the page may be best versus paying by the minute.  If your recording has a lot of “dead space” in it, your transcription vendor may charge you by the audio minute.  This is done not to nickel and dime you, but to make it fair for everyone.  When you have an audio that is 90 minutes in length but 70 minutes of that is “dead air,” that’s an enormous amount of time for someone to sit and listen and for you to end up being charged as a result.


Do your research.  Contact a few different vendors to get a quote.  Ask if the price they’re quoting you is the best they can offer.  Keep in mind that transcription can be a labor-intensive task, and asking for a big price reduction on a rush job probably shouldn’t be a part of your negotiating strategy.  Knowing what your requirements are before you commit yourself to a transcription provider and making sure they have your best interests in mind will help you in your search for a transcription service.

There are so many transcription companies available out there, and they all have their own promises and guarantees.  It’s hard to know which one really knows their craft.  Transcription Express, Inc. has been in business for over 17 years and has clients that have been with them for that period of time.  This doesn’t happen without satisfied, happy clients.  We handle each and every project as though it were our own personal project, and we price each and every transcript at a fair and very reasonable price.  Our motto is: “We do what we say we’re going to do, each and every time,” and we believe our track record proves this.

Give us a call today and let us work with you on whatever your transcription needs might be.  We would be happy to provide you with our transcription rates for your individual project or need.  You never know, it just may be the beginning of a mutually satisfying, long-term relationship.

Transcription Services – Why should you choose Transcription Express, Inc?

business transcription, corporate transcription, legal transcription, transcription, Transcription Express, transcription service, transcription services companyOkay, so you need a transcription services company that delivers the best transcription.  How do you know which one is the right one?  You’ve never needed a business transcription services company before, you don’t know of anyone who has used a transcription services company and their advertisements are everywhere on the internet!  They make all sorts of promises and guarantees.  Some of them even actually require a membership.  But how do you know which one is the right one for you?  We’ve all been there, and we’ve all found what we thought was the “great find” only to realize we should have researched a little more.  Well, when it comes to transcription service providers, Transcription Express IS the best choice.  Read on to find out why and how we’re different from the others that you’ve read about.

Proudly, Transcription Express Inc. has been in business since 1995 and has transcribed over 12 million pages.  We do tremendous amounts of verbatim transcription and/or interview transcription, but have experience in many areas, including corporate transcription and legal transcription.  How much better can it get?  Well, we believe it can get a lot better, and we work long and hard every day to make sure we continue to surpass all the other transcription services companies out there.  Serving companies across the country has given us the opportunity to experience various language nuances that other transcription services companies do not encounter.


When you’re searching for a reputable transcription services company, be sure to consider the following:

Let’s start off with customer service.  If it weren’t for our excellent customer service track record, we would be just one of those other companies that you’ve found on the web.

Customer Service:  Customer service at Transcription Express, Inc. is worth its weight in gold and as I’m sure you’ve experienced with other service providing companies, unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  Customer service is our #1 priority!  Our mantra at Transcription Express is we do what we say we’re going to do, each and every time!  No exceptions!

Turnaround Time:  Have a rush job?  Need it tomorrow?  No problem!  We are able to return completed transcripts in as little as a couple hours or as long as five days, just depending on your needs and the size of the project or job.  We pride ourselves on being responsive and flexible to our customers’ needs.

business transcription, corporate transcription, legal transcription, transcription, Transcription Express, transcription service, transcription services companyLocation:  Transcription Express, Inc., located in Gilbert, Arizona, has been in business for over 17 years and counting.  Not only do we have extensive experience in various fields of transcription, but we’re also located in an area of the country that experiences virtually no catastrophic events, i.e., tornadoes, earthquakes, etc., which means we can meet each and every deadline for our clients.

business transcription, corporate transcription, legal transcription, transcription, Transcription Express, transcription service, transcription services companyTraining:  What?  You actually train your transcriptionists?  Yes, we do!  To ensure ongoing and consistent document quality, each transcriptionist must complete our on-site training program before completing transcripts for any clients.  This in-depth and hands-on training ensures the quality of their overall transcription skills and in-depth knowledge about each client they will be servicing.

Each transcriptionist receives regular 100% reviews of their transcripts to make sure they are maintaining our high quality standards.  Additionally, as an ongoing learning tool we provide beyond the initial training period, we have an in-house team of employees that mentor and guide each transcriptionist.  This team helps them with any questions or situations that may arise from transcript to transcript.

business transcription, corporate transcription, legal transcription, transcription, Transcription Express, transcription service, transcription services companyQuality Control:  Our document quality review program is an important part of our success.  Our Quality Control department is larger than most of our competitors’ entire company.  We use two very distinct methods to determine quality and would really like to share those with you.  Company wide, our word accuracy score consistently averages above 99%!  While this is only one of our many teaching tools, it also creates confidence among our clients because they know they will consistently receive quality documents, each and every time!

business transcription, corporate transcription, legal transcription, transcription, Transcription Express, transcription service, transcription services companyPricing:  The US economy the last couple years has brought every business owner different struggles and obstacles to overcome.  At TEI, we don’t think of these as negatives, but rather, incentives to improve the way we operate our transcription services company.  One of the challenges for any business is competitive pricing.  We are competitively priced, while at the same time, confident that we provide the highest quality documents possible.

business transcription, corporate transcription, legal transcription, transcription, Transcription Express, transcription service, transcription services companyTurnaround Time:  Fast and consistent turnaround times on clients’ documents is one of the keys to keeping happy customers.  Our state-of-the-art digital technology helps us process incoming and outgoing documents quickly and efficiently so we can meet your completion timetable.

business transcription, corporate transcription, legal transcription, transcription, Transcription Express, transcription service, transcription services companyTechnology and Security:   Transcription Express has invested heavily in keeping our technology up-to-date.  While dictation and transcription services technology is changing and improving, we intend to stay in the forefront, so we can meet or exceed your expectations, each and every time!  Additionally, to ensure the safety of any sensitive data contained in your transcripts, all our data is stored in an off-site data storage center with the highest security standards.

In addition, a background check is conducted on each and every transcriptionist we hire to ensure that they are on the up and up.

Outsourcing Transcription Services:

A great deal of transcription has been outsourced overseas, and a great deal has now returned to the United States.  Transcription Express, Inc. is proud to say that we keep all our work and jobs here at home in the United States.

Transcription Express, Inc. is a one-of-a-kind transcription services company that measures their clients’ retention by decades, not years.  Sure, you’ll find other transcription services companies out there, but you won’t find one that offers all that we offer.  Our quality work, secure processes, and flexibility not only provides an unmatched level of service, but it does so while meeting your highest expectations.

So what are you waiting for?  Give us a call and let us impress YOU!  Our contact information is:

Toll-free Sales Number:  1-800-371-4315

Or email us at

Dictation Tips and Techniques – How to dictate and record for quality & clarity.

dictation, dictation tips, dictation transcription, speech transcription, speech transcription services, verbal transcriptionDictation Tips, How Hard Can It Be?

How hard can it be to dictate?  You press the record button and speak, right?  How many times have you done just that only to find you had to dictate the same material again, and again, and again?  Just imagine you’ve completed your dictation and then you play back your recording and think, “Wow!  That is a great recording!”  What?  That hasn’t happened to you?  Who has spare time on their hands to dictate over and over again to get that great recorded quality?  Not me and I’m sure there aren’t many out there that do.  Let’s face it, we’re all busy and often put more on our plate than we have time for, so let’s get things on track (no pun intended!) and start using your time wisely.

There are many reasons that certain material may require the need for dictation.  Dictation can be anything from summary reports for a big case you’ve got coming up.  Perhaps you’re recording a telephone interview.  Wait a minute.  Did you say recording?  Yes, I did.  Dictation AND recording.  When you do one, you often do the other; they go hand in hand.  And now it’s time to learn some tried and true dictation tips and techniques to get you on track to perfect recordings, the first time, every time.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning.  It’s important to get to know your equipment, how it works and how to maintain it.  Ensure you are aware of where all the buttons are located.  If you are unsure, refer to your user manual.  Try to remember to have your dictation equipment serviced at least annually; this will ensure that your equipment stays in good condition and that the recording quality remains high.

Speaking of recording quality

That’s why you’re here, right?  Be sure to record your dictation using the highest recording quality level available on your recorder.  If you’re using a cordless device, be sure your battery is charged and/or you have extra batteries.  The last thing you want happening is the recorder to shut off in mid-dictation.

Be aware of your surroundings

Make sure you are in a quiet area so your dictation can be heard clearly by the typist.  Background noise is not only distracting, but it can also distort words when recording, increasing the risk of errors.  A quiet area will also help you maintain your concentration during dictation.  Noises that cause particular problems for the transcriptionist are shuffling papers, rattling of coffee cups, tapping on the table where the recorder is mounted, and eating or chewing while recording.

Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!

Be prepared before the dictation/recording begins.  Have a general format that you will be following to allow for a smooth transition from question to question, statement to statement.  Compile a list of questions or statements beforehand and review them prior to the recording so that you’re at ease and comfortable before the recording begins.  This will help you avoid those awkward moments when you might trip over your words.

Identify yourself at the beginning of your recording:

Spell out the details of any pertinent information mentioned during your dictation, such as names, addresses, file numbers, etc.  Spelling any difficult and/or unusual words or names with various different spellings will help your transcriptionist provide you with an accurate transcript.

Speak clearly and at a steady pace:

Try to breathe between sentences; you may pride yourself on being able to fit 10 minutes of dictation into two minutes of tape, but this will take much longer to type and the potential error rate in your transcript is much higher.

Remember, the best dictation is with placing your mouth at the recommended distance from the microphone.

Each brand of recording equipment has recommended optimum recording distances.  (Refer to your user manual for guidelines.)  If you are too close, your dictation may seem muffled, and if you are too far, the dictation may be too quiet; even worse…if you vary between the two, this can be very uncomfortable for the typist as he or she tries to adjust between a too loud and a too soft recording.

If you need to find a file or a piece of information during your dictation, stop the dictation equipment.

Once you have started your recorder, pause for a moment before your dictation begins, and when you have finished speaking, allow the recording to continue for a second.  This will help ensure none of your dictation has been clipped off.

Are you interviewing someone?

It’s important to set some ground rules before you begin to record.  Advise the person you’re interviewing you will be recording the conversation.  Let them know it’s important to enunciate their words properly and speak at a normal pace.  Remind them verbal answers are important; the recorder can’t pick up nods or shakes of the head.  A “yes” or “no” answer is much easier to understand and transcribe than a um-hum or uh-huh.  Also, if there are multiple speakers, try to avoid speaking over one another by reminding everyone to speak one at a time.

What have you got to lose?  Give it a shot!  Do yourself the favor of following the above dictating tips and techniques and see how improved your dictation recordings will be! This not only benefits you, but it also benefits your transcriptionist as well.

Remember the old saying garbage in, garbage out — well, by following the above dictation recording tips and suggestions you will avoid that “garbage out” result.

Paradise, the Hurricane, and Insurance Transcription in Between

Picture this: you’re on a beautiful Florida beach, soaking up some rays and relaxing as you bask in the glorious tropical heat.  A tiny crab scuttles across the ivory sands, and the waves gently lap against a peaceful shore for miles on end.  The wind rustles though a group of palm fronds as the smell of sunscreen and salt water drift into your awareness and gently float away.

But now there’s something more ominous on the horizon: a dark storm cloud just coming to your attention, yet it’s already too late.  The thunder rolls and lightning splinters as the storm comes.  It’s hurricane season, and the paradise that once was may soon be just a memory.

Insurance Transcription – The Storm and the Solution

All too often when a storm or natural disaster occurs, it taxes the resolve of local citizens and their insurance companies alike.  As an insurance provider in a litigious society, you have many rules and regulations to follow that can make the job of meeting government requirements and timing obligations difficult to meet.  It’s important to fulfill your contracts and obligations as effectively and efficiently as possible.  That is where the need for insurance transcription comes in.

Competitive Advantage:

I can already envision the claims office or command center in the aftermath of a Category 4 hurricane: stacks of paper far and wide, the loud phone chatter of a thousand and one conversations at once, and the frantic, frenetic activity associated with managers trying to pull it all together on time and on budget.

So it’s not hard to imagine why small details like voice recordings, handwritten notes, and verbal interviews so often create such chaos and may be left to fall between the cracks.  Yet these same small details, left to chance, can give your business a black eye in the view of regulators, the media, and your customer base.

When hours are at a premium and claim handler efficiency is the key, explore using a qualified insurance transcription services provider as your underlying support so your people can do the front line business that is most important, like inspecting losses, writing estimates, and issuing checks.

Let’s explore some of the intangible and tangible factors when selecting a qualified insurance transcription vendor for your short-term CAT needs.  Again, the impact of a CAT situation is far reaching because not only does it present a major threat to financial health, it also presents a major challenge to regulatory and public relations issues as well as challenge future marketing efforts if the company’s performance is perceived poorly by the media.

Possible delays in CAT response times are often an overlooked area when a company is selecting an insurance transcription services company.  For example, some companies regard the transcription service company’s location as absolutely critical.  The last thing they want to find during a large catastrophe is that their transcription company is located right in the middle of the disaster or in areas that are disaster prone.  Some other insurance companies may not address this issue because the person doing the hiring is being asked to hire a vendor for one specific type of work and may not consider the dilemma created by a CAT situation.  This is an opportunity for the procurer of insurance transcription services to help their company address a potential area of need, even if it’s not on the radar right now.

Recently, some insurance companies have found it to be well worth considering their regular transcription vendors for CAT work.  CAT situations, of course, can be an enormous risk, both from a financial and public relations standpoint.  Some carriers have begun using their current outsource vendors to help optimize their risk management strategies.  A vendor who already has the experience of handling a large volume of transcription for a company may very well be able to take on the additional transcription required in a CAT situation immediately, while smaller overflow vendors may not be able to keep up or ramp up for the additional work.

Take a look at the map below.  Where do your transcription vendors reside?  The optimal location, at least for natural disasters would be in the white portion of the map.  To drill down to available workforce and transportation needs, the best possible spot would probably be Phoenix, Arizona.

insurance transcription, insurance transcription services, transcription, transcription services

So be sure and ask a potential vendor if it has been chosen to do CAT work for any of its clients.  If they have, they will be able to give information that should make you feel comfortable and possibly provide you with a competitive advantage during the toughest of times.  To help you with your decision-making, ask the vendor about their non-CAT turnaround percentages.  This may help determine their bandwidth, the excess work capacity they try to maintain, and their business continuity plan, if they have one in place.  Ultimately, this information will help you determine if they will “be there” if a CAT event occurs.

Remember to include vendor location and vendor competency and preparedness as a part of your overall risk reduction strategy.  Insurance companies determine not only the probability of a risk occurring using actuarial factors, but also look at the risks in sales, underwriting, and claims processing.   This risk analysis should also include minimizing risks when it come to vendor selection and particularly vendor location.

Risk Management – Let us help!

Transcription Express is here to take as much weight off your shoulders as possible.  You see, we handle verbatim transcription, recorded statements, and audio transcription galore (that’s just for starters!), and we can help streamline your paperwork from our location in one of the most disaster-free areas in the country, sunny Phoenix, Arizona.  As a whole, insurance transcription and all it entails is our specialty, and we love serving customers like you in the midst of the storms of life.

Click here to visit our Services page to learn more or call us at 888-876-7272.  We’d love to provide you with the highest quality insurance transcription services in the country!

Catch Me If You Can – Transcription Services

“Risk Management” & “Claims Management Best Practices”

The magic of insurance is in the reality of management of risk or “risk management.”  The insurance industry, more than almost any sector of business is keenly aware of the concept of “Risk Management,” or the equitable transfer of someone else’s risk to the insurance company!  Check any insurance sales presentation or claims management “state of the state” address, and what is the underlying message you hear being talked about, other than hedging one’s risk against an eventuality or unanticipated event in one’s life or business.  Not only does the insurance company sell risk management, but they also have to be better able to appraise and control their own risks.


As a part of risk management, insurance companies not only determine the probability of a risk occurring via actuarial factors, but they also determine the sales, underwriting and claims processing risks, etc.  As a transcription services company, we are exposed to the claims management side of the equation and represent risk.  “Best Practices” vary from company to company as it relates to hiring a transcription services company but are put into place to minimize exposure or risk.  If best practices processes or processing are not followed or are poorly designed, potential financial risks to the insurance company go up.  Inaccurate recorded interview transcripts lead to inaccurate conclusions.  Having to give vendors long lead times leads to the risk of wasting money on transcription that end up not being needed and yet paid for.  I’m not saying anything new here (except possibly the view on turnaround times) and am preaching to the choir.

Have we lost our mind speaking of this?

Why would a transcription services company be writing a blog about the risk management and best practices of their vendors or potential vendors?  Can’t this only make it hard for the vendor?  For the last 17 years, we’ve had the opportunity to work with various insurance companies and in fact, we are one of the largest providers of insurance transcription in the country.  Although we are on the outside looking in as an outsourced insurance transcription company vendor, we have seen many things throughout the years and also see the vendor tricks and spin that keep companies from getting the true understanding of how they, the vendor, operate their businesses.  Do their operational process and sales spin create increased risk?  You bet they can, especially if left unchecked by the carrier.  Let me give you a non-insurance carrier example that you will recognize, I suspect.

Catch me if you can!

I recently attended a presentation by Frank Abagnale, the great con artist that the movie “Catch Me If You Can” starring Leo DiCaprio was written about.  Frank was captivating (of course) and had turned to doing the responsible thing rather than the lying and deceit.  Although he was never actually a medical doctor, an airline pilot, executive, etc., he did have the ability to move in those worlds and appear very real to those hiring him or allowing him to be in their presence.  I’ve often heard that the things in life that have the greatest effects on us are the books we read and the people we are exposed to and unfortunately, many got to meet Frank Abagnale, one of the biggest con artists of our time.  Those companies that Frank involved himself in were truly affected, and their risk definitely went way up when he was around.  Again, Frank Abagnale has now turned his efforts to helping companies and the FBI minimize risk and fraud rather than perpetrating it.

Quotes from Frank Abagnale:

  • “If my forgeries looked as bad as the CBS documents, it would have been ‘Catch Me In Two Days’.”   (when asked of his opinion of the Killian memos)
  • “What I did in my youth is hundreds of times easier today.  Technology breeds crime.”   (Frank Abagnale on how easy it is with modern technology to commit fraud)

Why would I be talking about Frank Abagnale?  He’s the perfect example of the unintended risk, “risk management” that outsourcing to transcription vendors can represent if “best practices” are weak, ignored, or relationships are based too much on the sales process and not enough on the verification of sales representations.  You may say, we’ve been working with this company for years, and the status quo has proved out but that may not be enough (although that can say a lot).

Frank had a keen eye for cracks in risk management, best practices and the status quo!  He couldn’t help but develop that eye with how he viewed the world and his lack of ethics, morals and values.  Anyone who is exposed to something day in and day out for years, sees many things as a result.

After 17 years, we too have seen cracks in risk management, best practices and status quo in our company as well as the companies we serve.  We’ve seen companies who approach the importance and quality of the recorded interview or recorded statement as extremely critical to their risk management strategy due to importance of capturing information before the attorneys, neighbors, family and friends enter the legal picture.  We’ve seen companies who know that in addition to transcription quality, there are a number of other areas that are critical for data safety.  Ask some of the top companies who have ended up on the television program 20/20.  We’ve seen companies where the risk management tide flows from one end of the spectrum to the other on a year-to-year basis.  Yester-year, it was risk management in the area of quality, this year in the area of data security and three years ago, price was all that mattered with little or no risk management or best practices applied.  It appears that some companies treat the quality and turnaround times of recorded interviews like they are not terribly relevant to their risk management.  We tend to be a great fit for those companies that place the importance of risk management of the outsourced recorded interviews high.

The hiring, vetting and retaining of the transcription services companies can be seen throughout the hiring and/or relationship process.  We’ve also seen companies who, although I’m sure they understand the importance, may not have clear and concise best practices of hiring transcription services companies.

In fact, we are seeing some organizations looking at the transcription procurement process and service level objectives that accomplish the task of manage risk as well as control costs.  Today’s organizations can actually reduce claim costs by maximizing or developing stronger claims management risk strategies and best practices through service level agreements that are very effective and underutilized.

Feel free to reach out and get more answers to the ways we reduce risk, costs, and the way the relationship is built with the transcription vendor.

I’m Terry Hurst and you can reach me toll-free at 1-800-371-4315 or at

Does a Corporate Ethics Code like “TruthAtWork” improve Transcription Quality in a Vendor/Client Relationship?

business transcription, insurance transcription, legal transcription, transcription qualityBusiness code of ethics is getting a great deal of play these days.  We had Enron, which was beyond deplorable. Then we had the financial meltdown that has devastated so many people while a few have gotten rich.  Now we have a new potentially messy situation with JPMorgan and their risky investments; the question of government funding of institutions making these investments and losing.  Let’s not forget parts of Europe who are rejecting the necessary austerity plans to deal with ethical issues along these lines.  What will happen in the U.S. at election time when these issues are brought up?  Many of our state and local governments are facing financial ruin due to unethical business practices in their organizations and at the federal government level.

Are Ethics Really a Factor in Transcription Quality?

Smaller businesses face business ethical questions regularly.  I own a transcription services company with 140 people, and we specialize in the business transcription, insurance transcription, and legal transcription with emphasis on large workloads and excellent transcription quality.  If the issues above are not enough to stir controversy, I’m going to add fuel to the fire by asking people’s views of organizations like “” and others organizations which work with Christian business owners to apply Biblical principles in their businesses.  Business owners who are trying to integrate their faith in the running of their businesses?  Business codes of ethics that require owners to wrestle with employee issues in terms of applying a servanthood approach to problems or a stewardship approach?  In competition with other vendors, we’ve seen any number of situations that seem to skirt ethical behavior.  For our industry, business ethics include transcription quality and the quality assurance process that includes grading of transcripts.  We’ve competed so many times against companies that do not have the staff to maintain excellent transcription quality.  In fact, our quality assurance team is larger than many of our competitor’s entire companies.

What Do Ethics and Transcription Quality have in common?

We all can tell stories of working with someone we thought espoused business ethics and it wasn’t the case at all.  Do any of you have thoughts about the topic of using one’s faith as not only a guiding force in determining business ethics but a stated resource in choosing their business ethics?  Do you think it would make a significant difference in transcription quality?  Are businesses a place that are in desperate need of business ethics that intentionally include faith, or is this a recipe for further problems with all the sentiment against faith in the workplace?  Even in visiting about this blog topic I received warnings that maybe this is not a topic to blog about.

In terms of full disclosure, I do belong to the TruthAtWork Roundtable located in Phoenix, Arizona.  I do feel compelled to operate my business and maintain high transcription quality for my customers as a part of that belief system.

#1 Buying Mistake when Purchasing Transcription Services

business transcription, insurance transcription, legal transcription, purchasing transcription services, transcription services, transcription services vendorsWhenever you’re purchasing transcription services in the business, legal, or insurance industries, many companies find that they have both good and bad luck.  This seems to be the case year in and year out, and it’s easy to see why, with all the purchasing models and purchasing decisions that must be made annually.  Decision makers are putting their reputations and careers on the line only to have it come back and bite them just by purchasing transcription services.  One decision maker once told me that during his tenure with his last transcription services company he hoped that no audits were done to determine whether or not the company is getting what they are paying for.

How SLO&As Increase the Amount of Customers Purchasing Transcription Services

With all the effort and time spent interviewing or designing and reviewing Request for Purchases (RFP), the mistake that I oftentimes see is when the process is complete, contract agreements are written that appear to shy away from Service Level Objectives and Agreements (SLO&As).

When I first got into the transcription services business 17 years ago, we didn’t have anything close to SLO&As.  Over time, they became important to a few of our clients, and they also came with big financial penalties.  At first, there were feelings of fear on our part, but we finally determined that if we do what we say we’re going to do, there should be no issues at all.  The fact that our client retention with major clients has been 17 years, 11 years, 10 years and 7 years would indicate that we do honor our commitments and will continue to do so.  This is when I realized that the company that had the stated SLO&As in their agreements with us was actually a tremendous benefit.  The companies that don’t use SLO&As in their contract language do themselves a potential disservice.  It is a lot easier for the transcription vendor to not have them and as a result can be a bit sloppy or sell services they really don’t have at all, such as their quality assurance.

Do SLO&A’s Really Work Out When Purchasing Transcription Services?

We’ve seen purchasing transcription services with SLO&As work out very positively.  Companies consistently get the best the vendor has to offer day in and day out, year in and year out. If the vendor has been rock solid for years, companies can make a business decision to not exercise a SLA if they desire, which builds loyalty with the transcription services vendor and encourages more purchasing of transcription services.

Seven Secrets to getting what you pay for when purchasing transcription services!

data security, recorded statements, transcription services, transcription services company, verbatim transcription, work turnaroundsPurchasing Transcription Services:

When purchasing transcription services, do you ever wonder if you got what you really agreed upon?  It’s costly to go visit them at their place of business, although that is one of the very best ways to really get to know a vendor.  Better yet, a short notice visit really does the trick.

The question comes down to this: Is the reality you thought you were buying during the sales process the same “reality” you are living with day-to-day, month-to-month and year-to-year?  For example, does your transcription services company really do the following things they discussed during the selling process?  If they aren’t, here are a few secrets I’ve come to know and follow and even suggest to my own customers to follow.

  • Do they really have a quality assurance staff overseeing, grading, and tracking the quality of work the transcriptionists produce?  Or is the quality assurance “staff” the same person who sold you the account and in some cases answering the phone?  Secret #1 is asking for up-to-date reports of all their graded scores.  You should be able to see the scores being given by the 100% Review Team.  They may need to give you the report for the previous two weeks or even last month.  The key is seeing the report.
  • Secret #2 is CRITICAL!  If it takes longer than 15 minutes for the 100% Review Team reports to be made available to you, BEWARE! Don’t let them say they will have it to you tomorrow.  The Bible tells us the world was built in six days, don’t you think a report could be created in an hour (after their important “meeting”) or even overnight?  15 minutes, that’s it!  Make the request early in the day and possibly find out what their schedule is before asking so as to make sure they have the time to deliver it in the 15 minutes. Guess what, many of your vendors can’t produce reporting because they don’t live up to what they are selling!
  • If it’s verbatim transcription of recorded statements that you need, do they really know how to transcribe the recorded statements using verbatim style transcription?  Where did they learn it, and how uniform is their work?  Secret #3 is simply asking them what the number one challenge they face is when doing verbatim transcription.  They should have an answer that pops out of their mouth immediately.
  • Is the work turnaround time being fulfilled as promised?  Secret #4 is determining whether they are fulfilling their agreement and adding a Service Level Agreement surrounding work turnaround with financial penalties if they are meeting their obligations.
  • Secret #5 is pushing the tracking and reporting to the transcription services company.  When they send their invoice, they need to send their reports!  You can periodically check their reports so you don’t do all the heavy lifting.
  • When your transcription services company spoke to you about data security initially, did you feel alright?  Secret #6 is don’t rely on feelings!  This is a job for your IT/Security team to be involved in. Cover yourself so you know exactly what you have.  There are vendors working out of their houses, where even if digital transport security is fine, you don’t even know their physical security risk.  Be sure you are not going to end up on 20/20 with compromised data resulting in career suicide.
  • I’ve seen the procurement of transcription services decisions go from actual users involved with the services to procurement departments making the decisions.  There are benefits and drawbacks to both methods.  Regardless of which model you follow, Secret #7 is in the area of relationship-building.  Build relationships when possible and do not become connected to just one person in the transcription services company!  Visit your vendor when possible.  At the very least, speak to not only your customer services representative but also possibly the president or quality assurance personnel.  Know that without various people to fill the roles, and therefore the promises, they are probably not happening.

I would also add to all of the above that connecting personally with different parts of the transcription services vendor might generate additional ways to lower your costs or add value to your operation.  They may have ideas from other work they’ve done that you’ve not ever thought of in your company.

Do you feel that audio transcription is a viable service?

Audio Transcription and Its Importance

audio transcription, business transcription, insurance transcription, transcription service, verbatim style transcription, verbatim style transcripts, voice transcription, witness interviewsSeventeen years ago, I wondered if technology would eliminate the need for audio transcription within five years in terms of verbatim style recorded statements.  Although we are working heavily in the area of speech recognition for some of our clients, it will not have an affect on recorded statements to any great degree at all.  The reason for this view is because of two shortcomings of technology and the one major issue of the desire to win:

  1. With insurance transcription, technology will not get in the way of recorded statements because of the unique person being interviewed every single time.  Although speech recognition can be trained by the everyday individual user (although I can’t seem to make it work quite the way I want it), it has no effective way to handle a unique person being interviewed each and every time.
  2. The other problem with speech recognition technology in terms of replacing human transcription is that it has no way of doing verbatim style transcription.  Verbatim style transcription is an art, and live transcriptionists are taught to remove their natural inclination to auto-edit when they type.  This is why audio transcription training needs to be so extensive and consistent grading and tracking must be done to avoid the transcriptionist from slipping back into their auto-editing, everyday world.  In fact, when I’ve seen trained transcriptionists from other countries that know English very well try to do verbatim style transcription for a U.S. company, it’s surprising because they do not truly know the nuances of our North American brand of English.  I talked to one high-level manager about their effort to take the recorded interviews overseas and it was a disaster.  They brought the work back very quickly as a severely failed experiment.
  3. Last but not least is in the area of preparedness and/or winning.  From what has been shared with me, a verbatim style transcript is not going away because it has nuances that can be used in the preparation of a claim and determining whether to spend valuable resources on the claim.  She said that at the moment when recorded interviews are taken is when the value of the information can be exceptionally high.  Quality verbatim style transcripts can be the key to their preparation, controlling costs and winning.  She viewed the recorded statements and verbatim style transcription as the key to saving money rather than just another expense category!

Other feedback regarding audio transcription would be very interesting! This area has become one of my favorites to visit about so feel free to add your feedback or touch base with me at 1-800-371-4315 or