Transcription Services

What Do Transcription Services Cost? 5 Ways to Get a Good Deal and a Quality Transcript

By Take Note Team on April, 4 2019
Take Note Team

Are you looking for a transcription service but put off by the costs?

With the many transcription services out there, it’s easier than you think to get a quality transcript for a good deal. There are many different kinds of transcription services that vary in cost.

The benchmark rate for a quality transcription service is around £1 a minute. However, if you want to add any extras, such as quicker turnaround times, speaker identification or timestamps, the cost can go up.

Getting a good deal starts with getting the right transcript. This article will look at the different price points and service offerings delivered by transcription services and provide 6 ways to get a good deal on the right transcript.

#1: Pick The Transcript That Fits Your Need For Detail

Quality transcription service companies don’t just offer you one type of transcript. Most give you options on the level of detail you need, allowing you to match that offering with your transcription needs. These different services cost different amounts. You need to pick the right one to get the right transcript for the job and not overpay for details that you don’t need.  

  • Verbatim Transcription. Verbatim transcriptions (also known as intelligent verbatim or word-for-word transcripts) are the industry standard transcript. They are edited to omit the ‘ums’, ‘errs’ and false starts that pervade speech and can make your transcript challenging to read. These are the most versatile transcript format, and are more competitively priced than transcripts that include more detail.

    -   Verbatim transcripts start at around £1 per minute. 
  • Full-Verbatim Transcription. If you need every exact detail, that is what a full-verbatim transcript delivers. They reintroduce all of the stutters removed in a verbatim transcript. You can then go further and pay extra to add notes on tone, pauses, laughter, etc. You might need this level of detail for legal purposes. But, for most circumstances, you will pay a substantial premium for this type of transcript while gaining no added value. The challenge of reading this type of transcript can actually reduce the ROI of your transcript investment. 

    -   Full-verbatim transcripts start at around £1.20 per minute.
  • Detailed Notes Transcription. If meaning is what counts and you know that there is a lot of off- topic chit chat in a recording, some transcription services offer edited transcripts that go one step further than verbatim offerings. Rather than capturing everything that was said, detailed notes transcripts focus on particular people or topics, summarising the rest of the information. Because this is simpler to produce, if it is what you need, you will reap cost savings as a result.

    -   Detailed notes transcripts start at around £0.80  per minute.

After you've decided on the type of service you need, the next step is to figure out which extras you need. You are likely to pay more for the following:

  • Quick turnaround times — the shorter the turnaround time, the more money you’ll pay.

  • Timestamps — some transcriptionists will charge money for time-stamping the final transcript.

  • Identification of speakers — if you need speaker identified, this might cost more.

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#2: Understand What Factors That Lead to Penalty Fees

There are a couple of factors that can lead transcription service firms to add extra fees to your per minute rate. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about this. But, other times, you will be able to plan ahead and mitigate the issues. If these are known issues, you can also look for transcription services that deliberately do not alter their fees based on any of these factors.

  • Accents — if the person speaking has an accent, then this increases the difficulty of the transcription process. Some transcription services will use this as a reason to raise their prices.

    • Accents are local, picking a local service can remove this as a factor. Equally, try to get people to speak slowly and clearly. This is not always possible, but it can make a difference.

  • Lower audio quality — the lower the audio quality, the more difficult the transcription, and the more you’ll pay.

    • Make sure that you have a high-quality recording, invest in a dedicated audio recorder and avoid making recordings over the phone whenever possible.  

  • Multiple speakers — Some transcription services just charge to identify speakers. But, others base their fees on how many speakers there are. If there are a lot of speakers on your recording, particularly if you don’t care about speaker identification, make sure that you pick a transcription service that does not charge on this basis.

Each of these factors could cost anywhere from £0.05 to £0.30 extra per minute of audio. That can add up quick.

#3: Don’t Mind Waiting? Save Money By Planning Ahead

If getting your transcript isn’t urgent, you can opt for a slower turnaround time to get a better deal. Many companies in the transcription industry offer lower prices for transcriptions delivered in 7+ days, meaning that you can still get a high-quality transcription without having to sacrifice on quality or any extras that you might need, like timestamps.

This is the best way to cut down on your bill without sacrificing quality, security or the accuracy of outcomes. If your budget is tight, look to make savings this way. To get the best deals, however, you will need to be able to wait about 2 weeks to get your transcript back.   

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#4: Consider Using Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) Software

The way to get a really cheap transcript is to use an ASR provider — automatic speech recognition software. Some of these services are free, and even the most expensive and best ASR providers cap out around £0.10 per minute of audio, making them an order of magnitude cheaper than human-based services.  

The reason for this is obvious, there is no transcriptionist to pay. So, why doesn’t everyone use ASR? Unfortunately, it is still lacking when it comes to delivering a quality and reliable outcome. ASR effectively caps out at an 80% accuracy rate. If there are accents, background noise, multiple speakers or other factors impacting audio quality, that figure can rapidly decrease, sometimes producing completely unintelligible results.

You will get the best results out of speech-to-text software if you have a high-quality recording of one person speaking slowly and deliberately. If you have a clean recording, do not need a perfect transcript and have time to edit that transcript, ASR might deliver a workable solution on a hairline budget. If you have time to experiment, go try out a free ASR provider and see how it works for the recording in question.  

#5: Find A Transcription Partner and Stick With Them

If you have a lot of material you transcribe on a regular basis, you can access better deals by striking a partnership with a transcription service. This option is often only available to B2B buyers, but, it is always worth a call to a customer service team if you are a high-quantity transcript buyer.

Access to your repeat business can deliver a host of benefits from bespoke pricing, special formatting requests, bulk discounts and more. Turning a transcription service into a transcription partnership can deliver winning outcomes for everyone involved — allowing you to access quality services at lower prices.  

Conclusion

So what have we learned? We’ve discovered that you don’t necessarily have to pay a lot for quality transcription services if you know what kind of service you need, if you’re prepared to wait, and if your recording is of good quality.

The trick to keeping costs down is to carefully characterise the service you need and then apply for quotes. For instance, even if you require a human-transcribed, secure, verbatim transcription, you can still save money by choosing a longer delivery time. Alternatively, ASR might be a suitable option for high-quality recordings. Equally, finding a long-term transcription partner can also deliver access to cheaper rates and higher-quality service.

Whichever service you choose to go with, researching exactly what you want and what the service is offering are the best way to ensure you get a quality transcript at a reasonable price.


You have been learning about how to get a good deal when it comes to your transcription needs. If you have more questions about transcription service, including security concerns, ASR and industry-specific needs (medical transcripts, legal transcripts and transcripts for market research firms), we have written the Ultimate Guide to Transcription Services just for you!

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