Time and again new transcribers, and even old, wonder what it is like to use automated transcription software. Why clients want them to personally transcribe by hand. What could be so bad about a software program that does the hard part for you? Well, for one, they are not always accurate, and could end up costing you more time in the long run.
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Over the years, I have had upwards of 100 people ask me why I don’t use automated programs to transcribe my audio files, and the answer is quite simple.
I tried using them once, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. But I will get more into this in the pros and cons section.
First, I would have to say the most popular software program available is Dragon Naturally Speaking.
They have a very good reputation within the transcription world, and a lot of people use their programs.
They offer a wide variety of different package deals, each having different capabilities. Obviously, the most the spend, the better the software and the more the program can do.
The link above will take you to their website. If you scroll down, you will see the different packages they offer.
What each one has the ability to do, and some of them even come with a money back guarantee! Which is absolutely fantastic, so that takes down the risk factor a little bit.
But I’m sure you also noticed the prices of each program.
The prices are pretty high, in my opinion. And definitely not the type of money a new transcriptionist wants to spend, or is even able to spend before having static clients.
Their programs are great, in general, besides the price. Each one coming with a higher guarantee of accuracy, but the prices get higher with each one.
Dragon does come with a great customer support line. They are relatively quick about getting back to you with answers or solutions to whatever problems you have had with the software.
Dragon, overall, is a great company, and a great buy if you have the money to spend on the software.
Another program I suggest, is Express Scribe Pro. This software is fantastic, it does the same job as Dragon, but for a fraction of the cost.
From the link above, you can download it for 40 bucks, instead of paying 175 for the basic Dragon program.
However, Express Scribe Pro doesn’t come with any type of guarantee of accuracy, so that is something to keep in mind while deciding which would be best for you.
Along with the fact that Express Scribe Pro doesn’t come with any type of customer support line. If something happens or you have a question, it is basically up to you to figure it out and fix it.
So paying a little more will get you help if you could possibly need it, but either way, they are both great programs and I would highly suggest either one to anyone wanting to use an automated transcription program.
Like I said, I don’t personally use any automated transcription programs.
Almost all of my clients specifically request to have their audio transcribed by hand, not automated. And that is for a couple of reasons.
First, a machine will never be better at understand a human speaking than another human listening to the speech.
Yeah, the programs are designed to be able to pick up on what is being said, but that doesn’t stop the program from picking up on voices in the background. Or confusing words that sound alike.
Especially when it comes to the English language. There are so many words that sounds the same, slang words, and also so many rules in the English language that it would be impossible to have a 100% accurate dictation from a machine.
Thankfully the world isn’t Terminator yet where these machines and programs have become more infinitely capable than a human being.
But do not fear, I will be your Sarah Connor to finding salvation in world of automated transcription programs.
Second, it may sound silly, but a lot of clients actually like the personability of having a real person transcribing their audio files.
Think about it, if your client didn’t want to ensure accuracy, and also have the ability to communicate with you about the project, they would have bought the software themselves and saved money.
Clients like to be able to talk to you about the project, they like knowing that the audio is being transcribed by a person who is actually sitting there listening, and is fluent in English.
Third, but most important, like I said above, the English language has a great deal of quirks and exceptions.
Most clients, when asking for, or trying to find a transcriptionist, will specifically make note of the fact that they want a native English speaker if their audio is in English.
And it doesn’t matter what country they are from that speaks English, being able to understand and pick up on different slang terms or made up words, is not something a machine or program is capable of doing.
So the cons of automated transcription software is that it becomes very impersonal, the programs are only capable up to a certain point, and most importantly, most clients want you to physically transcribe the audio, instead of running it through a program.
Concerning the positive points of using an automated transcription program is that it does making the job of transcribing a whole heck of a lot faster.
Transcribing a 30 minute audio file could take the program as little as 5 minutes!
But you have to take into consideration the fact that these programs don’t separate the lines by speaker.
Yeah it took 5 minutes, but now you have to spend an hour going through and still listening to the audio anyway, to separate each line by speaker. Label the speaker, and possibly include time stamps!
Doing all of that could have potentially taken longer than it would have if you sat there and transcribed it yourself by hand.
Another positive thing to note about automated programs is that certain ones, like Dragon, offer an accuracy money back guarantee.
This could be fantastic, if you try using it, and you realize that you absolutely hate it because you spend more time correcting it, then you can simple send it back.
In general, there are more negatives than positives when it comes to automated transcription software programs.
I full heartedly suggest transcribing by hand over using any type of automated program.
Clients want it by hand, so essentially, to ensure that you are keeping clients and getting more clients asking for you service, you have to play by the rules.
Though, if you absolutely have to use an automated program, I would suggest using Dragon.
I know that it was a great deal more expensive than the Express Scribe Pro software, the quality you are getting it worth the extra money.
You will receive customer support, a guarantee, and if the program is able to save you time, then in the end I suppose it is worth it.
Just make sure that you are actually figuring out if it is helping you or not.
Have the program transcribe the audio for you, and make sure to keep track of the time. Then track the time that it takes you to edit, add in speaker titles and time stamps.
And if you actually saved time with a 30 minute audio file using the software compared to doing it by hand, then by all means go ahead and continue to use the program.
But either way, as long as you are able to get your files done in a timely manner and ensure accuracy to your client, it is completely up to personal preference.
I used an automated program one time, and I ended up spending way more time editing and fixing the words and layout than I would have done if I did it by hand.
And since that one time, I have always just done it by hand. Don’t get me wrong, I completely love the idea of having the audio transcribed for me, and then all I have to do is edit it.
But the proof is in the pudding as they say, and I didn’t like the flavor I got.
But not everyone will have the same experience as me. Hopefully your experience if you choose to use one of the programs I suggested will be far better than mine!