What Are the Difficulties or Challenges That One May Face in Transcription?

What Are the Difficulties or Challenges That One May Face in Transcription?
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


What’s at stake when you miss or misinterpret critical conversation details during transcription?

“Defense attorney question’s accuracy of the transcript from video testimony.” “Scholars decry bias in academic transcripts.” These aren’t published headlines, but they depict how inaccurate transcription services may upset clients. 

According to a study by Frontiers, your transcripts' quality, accuracy, and reliability mainly depend on the transcription process itself and the speakers.

So, before using transcription services (or doing it yourself), it’s essential to remember the various challenges you might face and what that might mean for your organization.

There are multiple variables to consider, from poor audio quality and cross-talking speakers to grammar errors and high costs.

8 Technical Challenges Transcriptionists Encounter

You may encounter the following transcription challenges for your audio recording, whether it’s for a meeting, interview, class session, or podcast: 

1. Poor Audio Quality

Poor audio quality can mean a lot of things, but it’s mainly when a significant chunk of recorded speech is inaudible, potentially affecting the accuracy of your transcript. It can occur in various scenarios where the recording environment isn’t ideal.

Examples include a customer calling from home or the police covertly recording an event for use in a case. 

2. Multiple Speakers & Accents

When the quality of a recording is sub-par, cross talk and thick accents can only complicate the transcription work further.

In this case, transcribers need help identifying the speakers, deciding who said what, and sometimes deciphering what was said exactly. Interviews and unscripted, natural conversations can have this problem, making some content unusable. 

3. Background Noise

The ideal recording environment is quiet, but the opposite is the reality many transcriptionists face daily.

They often have to transcribe audio recorded in a busy area with noise from people talking or vehicles in the background. Audio interruptions can make part of the conversation inaudible and more challenging to transcribe accurately.

4. Poor Recording Equipment

The technical setup can affect the quality of any audio recording and impact the transcription results. Even if you’ve invested in cutting-edge video conferencing equipment for your office, there’s no guarantee that everyone on the other end of the conversation will always have it. 

5. Multiple Languages

Conversations in multiple languages can pose a translation obstacle when pursuing the perfect English transcript. You might face this transcription problem if your business serves a diverse community, such as a law firm that records calls with non-English-speaking clients.

Access to a multi-lingual team of transcribers, which many organizations often lack, is necessary to accurately cover the entire dialogue in the final transcript. 

See Also: How to Transcribe Bad Quality Audio and Represent Inaudible in Transcripts

6. Tight Deadlines

Depending on the type of transcription and audio difficulty, transcribing a recording can take an appreciable amount of time.

However, we live in a fast-paced world where researchers, students, marketers, and clients want quick transcripts to avoid delaying their projects. Transcribers without sufficient human capital may not meet the tight guidelines without degrading the quality of their work.

7. Grammatical Mistakes

Speakers can make grammatical errors during a conversation. What if the client wants a clean, error-free transcript that's easy to understand?

The challenge for the transcriber is to pick out any mistakes, decipher the speaker's intent, and convert the speech into accurate text. Mispronounced and similar-sounding words can also confuse the transcriptionist, especially when the speaker is foreign or has a strange accent.

8. Lengthy Recordings

You may have to take on large file formats if you're working with lengthy recordings, such as for group meetings.

There will be an implication on audio and transcription quality if the files are compressed. The issue of what information to include or exclude in the manuscript can also arise when transcribing extended qualitative research or interview recordings. 

Challenges Faced by People When Opting For Transcription Services

People face various challenges when choosing transcription services. Even if you decide to use transcription services for your organization than doing it yourself, there are still some issues that need to be addressed, such as the following:

1. Data Security

Contrary to misconception, it’s not just medical or legal transcriptions that require secure handling under data protection laws like HIPAA.

If your recordings contain identifiable personal information, such as customers’ or interviewees’, get the necessary data security and non-disclosure guarantees from your transcription provider.

By signing confidentiality agreements and hiring a transcription company that implements stringent privacy protocols, you can guarantee the safety and security of your data.

2. Turnaround Time (TAT)

Transcription is often time-sensitive as a mission-critical component of a broader project, such as research or marketing.

If the transcript requires a do-over because of inaccuracies, it can cause related workflows to stall.

You can overcome this problem by hiring a transcription service that comes with flexible turnaround times. 

3. Accuracy

Did the speaker say, "I love you too” or “I love you two”? Since both are grammatically correct, the challenge lies in understanding the context to transcribe the spoken statement accurately.

Speaker/voice differentiation is another area where mistakes can occur, reducing a transcript's accuracy.

Choosing an experienced human-based transcription service over automated or AI-based transcription can significantly enhance the accuracy of your transcripts. They can effectively understand and interpret various accents, dialects, and contextual nuances.

You May Like: How Do I Transcribe a BlueJeans Meeting?

4. Specialized Expertise

Different rules (regarding formatting, data confidentiality, etc.) apply to various transcriptions. For this reason, an academic research transcript won't look the same as a podcast transcript for SEO.

Therefore, choosing a specialist with the relevant expertise and experience for your unique needs is mandatory to get satisfactory results.

You should select a trusted transcription service that is well-equipped to transcribe various types of content, including business, legal, and academic, providing the desired outcome with accuracy and efficiency.

5. Cost

There’s no doubt producing accurate and error-free transcripts requires skill and excellent training. However, costs can add up when you want to set yourself up for high-quality transcriptions.

For organizations that need to transcribe recordings regularly, the big question is: do we have sufficient resources (including money and quality assurance) to do this entirely in-house?  

With skilled transcribers, you can transcribe your files with precision and efficiency, enabling you to concentrate on more productive tasks.

Despite the belief held by some that AI-based transcription is a more cost-effective and time-saving solution, evidence suggests the contrary.

Why Choose GMR Transcription for Your Transcription Needs?

Choosing GMR Transcription Services, Inc. is the quickest way to overcome the various transcription challenges and get a 99% accurate transcript.

We utilize U.S.-based human transcribers who apply their native English credentials to deliver grammatically and contextually perfect text documents the first time. The ready-to-use transcripts require no rework, allowing you to reduce transcription costs and save your precious business time. 

Besides implementing high-level data security and encryptions, we provide signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to guarantee the confidentiality of our client's files.

No transcription task, be it multiple speakers or thick foreign accents, is too difficult for us. Upload your recording on our website or copy-paste its URL to import from the host site speakers, and we will transcribe it. Register today to get started!

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.