Transcription Services

What Market Research Firms Need Out of Transcription Services: How to Find Detail, Reliability and Quality on a Budget

By Thomas Carter on May, 21 2019
Thomas Carter

Market research firms using transcription services are relying on the quality and detail delivered by their transcription partners to gather the insights required to make a success out of their efforts.

However, the volume of transcripts that market research firms need easily leads to skyrocketing costs. With the emphasis on quality and reliability required by market research firms, is it possible to have your cake and eat it too? Can market research firms get the transcripts they need on the cheap?

The quick answer to that question is ‘yes’... kind of.

Cost and quality do go hand in hand. But, that doesn’t mean the most expensive transcription service on the market is the only one that will work.

Knowing the options available, exactly what type of transcript you need and the signposts of a quality transcription service will let you get exactly what you need at the best possible price. That is exactly what we are going to help you do here — taking market researchers through finding a transcription service that suits their transcription needs.

What kind of services are there?

There are a variety of transcription services on the market, offering different kinds of transcriptions. Typically, you have two main options: human-based services and automated speech recognition (ASR).

Human transcriptions are the more expensive option, but they’re 99%+ accurate and come with many options to customise the service, delivering you the exact transcript that you need.

ASR is far cheaper, but the accuracy rate maxes out at about 80% — and that’s when you have a clear and high-quality recording of one person speaking. Many things can make ASR unintelligible, such as numerous speakers talking at once, people using slang words and the amount of background noise in the room.

Ultimately, ASR is a bad option if you need market research transcripts. It’s not as reliable, it can easily become confused and is particularly unsuited to the rigours of market research.

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Getting the right human-based transcription service

Most people think a transcript records every detail of a recording. That is what you get with ASR — at least, you get an attempt at that outcome. Human transcription services do provide ‘full-verbatim’ options, delivering that kind of 100% faithful account of a recording. You can even pay extra for annotations on tone, pauses and laughter.

What people rarely consider, however, is how difficult these kinds of transcripts are to read. The spoken word is not straightforward and is filled with false starts, repetitions, ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’. Transcription services take this into account and deliver verbatim transcripts that cut these superfluous bits of speech, delivering a clean, easy-to-read transcript.

Some transcription services that specialise in catering to market research also offer services called detailed notes transcripts. These additionally edit out off-topic chit chat and summarise interview questions. This delivers a succinct review of your recording, providing you only with the insights you need and nothing else.

Both verbatim transcripts and detailed notes transcripts cost less per minute than full-verbatim transcripts — meaning that by choosing these services, market researchers get a better outcome at a lower price-point.        

Plan ahead!

If you know your transcript isn’t urgent and you’re willing to wait for it, then you can make significant savings by allowing transcription services to fit in your transcript when it suits them. Like flying standby, your willingness to be slotted in when they have time means they maximise their use of time and you save money — all at no cost to the quality of the service or the number of extras you get.

If possible, plan ahead so you can wait up to two weeks for your market research transcripts, and it will save a fortune. The reverse is also true. The sooner you require a transcript, the more expensive it will cost. Most transcription services have standard turnarounds of 24-hours. Faster turnarounds are possible but will be priced at a premium — keep that in mind.  

Loyalty is often rewarded

Like any company, transcription service firms are interested in developing steady streams of revenue on which they can count. The reliably large volumes of recordings market research firms need transcribed make them ideal long-term customers. By developing that into a semi-structured partnership of repeat business, both parties can benefit. Many transcription services will offer long-term repeat customers access to bespoke pricing and service options.  

It’s simple business; they know that they can make more money by keeping you as a customer and reducing the overall price of their service for you. Similarly, you may be prioritised above other customers. Once you find a quality transcription service that works for you, open up a dialogue and look to get bulk discounts. Look to get customer priority with transcription services who have market research experience and deliver customised outcomes.

Plus, when you do your research and find the perfect service to be your transcription partner, you know that you’re always getting quality. You’ve trusted them before, so you don’t have to worry about them not delivering the results you require.

Security should always be a priority

When you need a transcription service, you can’t afford to neglect security. Think about all the sensitive material and data you have, and think about the consequences of it being shared around without proper consent. It can ruin your reputation and make it hard to carry out further market research as people know that their data can be accessed and exploited.

Firstly, transcription services should be willing to sign an NDA. If a company doesn’t want to do this then that's a massive red flag! Check their specific security policies as well — this gives you more confidence that your data is secure.

You should see if they have ISO accreditation — mainly ISO 27001 and 9001. The first one is all about information security management, with 9001 focused more on general management.

Then look at encryption. You want a transcription service that uses SSL or TLS encrypted log-in portals and storage protocols, and an HTTPS web address.

The most secure transcription services top all of this by keeping their transcriptionists in-house and avoiding the use of an off-shore workforce. Both of these practices are necessary to truly guarantee that internal security policies are actually carried out. If you want a truly secure transcription service, you need to look out for these practices.    

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Picking the right transcription service for you

Making the right choice when using market research transcription services starts with understanding the different types of transcripts there are and choosing the one that is best suited for your particular needs on a specific project.

If you need as much detail as possible, then verbatim is the best choice, but it will be the most expensive. You are also likely to not need that much information.

Most market research firms save money and accelerate review periods by opting for verbatim or detailed notes transcripts. However, you shouldn’t sacrifice the kind of transcript you need due to a budget. Getting a good deal starts with understanding the outcome you need. Think about the specific transcript you require, then work on getting it for as cheap as possible.

For example, make sure that speaker identification and time stamps are included if they are necessary. Some transcription services price these in automatically, while others have them as extras. But, particularly when it comes to speaker identification, if that is important, it is a must-have -- no matter how much it costs.

That is the key point to take from this; start with your requirements. Consider the outcome you need from the transcripts, then see if you can save money by entering a partnership with one company and asking for slow turnarounds. No matter what, never compromise on the security of the service — always ensure you’re paying for the best data protection! All of this will help your market research firm find the transcription services that are perfect for you.


You have been reading about how to get the best deal on the best transcript for a market research firm. If you want to learn more about the options on the market, we have written the Ultimate Guide to Transcription Services just for you.

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