Our quality goal
Babbletype guarantees to deliver transcripts and translations which are at least 99% accurate in content, editorial presentation and format. You can find our guarantee here.
How we achieve that goal
Every transcript and translation prepared by Babbletype is touched at least four times on its path from us to you. A transcriber or translator begins with the initial draft. We then review that draft for content accuracy, for editorial accuracy, and for compliance with instructions and format. If the work fails, it is sent to another transcriber or translator to be fully reviewed against the recording and corrected. We then review it again. When the draft passes review, a proofreader goes over the entire transcript again to ensure that it is as editorially accurate as possible. Then the proofreader’s work is reviewed in the same kind of pass/fail loop just discussed. Only then, when the finished, proofread transcript passes final review, is it sent on to you.
Quality trumps speed
As fair warning, we will tell you that as a matter of policy we place quality ahead of turnaround time. If your transcript requires extra work, we will always do that first.
Preparing transcripts is not mass manufacturing. Every single recording is different, with different levels of recording quality and clarity, with different voices and accents, with different topics and terms. Real human beings do their best to interpret what was said, often in less than perfect conditions. Then that work is reviewed and corrected by other real human beings. It occasionally happens that the wrong recording gets matched with the wrong transcriber, and the result is failing quality work. When that occurs, the vast majority of the time our reviewers catch it. But on occasion the reviewer will miss the problem, resulting in our clients receiving work of unacceptable quality. It’s rare — like getting three cherries in a slot machine — but it happens. That’s what our quality guarantee is for. If you are ever unsatisfied with the quality of our work for any reason, let us know, and we’ll make it right.
Babbletype’s approach to quality
The rest of this page discusses how Babbletype looks at quality, and how we balance our clients’ quality needs with their needs for low price and fast turnaround.
Our CEO likes to tell a story about a book he read in the 1980s — The Lord of the Rings. By that time, the book had been in print for more than three decades, had sold tens of millions of copies, been through many editions and certainly through the hands of many editors.
What surprised him was that he still found typos and other minor errors throughout the book. The Lord of the Rings is about 450,000 words long. John said he found dozens of errors, which makes the book roughly 99.9999% accurate.
The message here is that absolute perfection in anything is impossible. This is doubly true in audio-to-text services like the ones we offer. Audio transcription is really a type of translation — an interpretation from verbal forms to text forms. Recordings are rarely perfect, speakers are rarely perfectly clear, speakers interrupt and talk over one another, lose or change the thread of what they were saying, or make mistakes themselves. Take a group of the world’s greatest transcriptionists and give them the same recording, and you’ll receive a slightly different document from each of them.
There is always an error rate, and in discussing quality, the issue is what that error rate should be.
Time and cost
Then there’s the problem of time and cost. Quality is part of the price-quality-turnaround triangle, and anything you do to move the quality needle also influences the other two corners.
The level of quality in a document is equivalent to the number of times that document has been thoroughly reviewed. We talk about this internally in terms of passes. Babbletype performs a total of at least four passes to arrive at our guaranteed 99% quality threshold: initial transcription, translation quality review, proofreading, and proofreading quality review. Any failures during review cause other transcription or proofreading passes to be performed.
An important point to understand in editorial quality is the law of diminishing returns. The effort we just described gets us to 99%, which we call commercial quality. That’s a level of quality perfectly suitable to any normal commercial use of a transcript, but 99% is not 100% and some (generally non-material) errors will still remain.
To get to 99.9%, near-publication-ready content, takes nearly as much effort as getting to 99%. Since this is audio-to-text, another transcriptionist needs to review the entire transcript over again against the recording to ensure that as much content as possible has been extracted, and that the content is as accurate as possible.
To get to 99.99%, or true publication-ready content, you need to do the whole thing over yet again, to find and eliminate the majority of any errors that remain. As you can imagine, this final step is generally gilding the lily, but that level of almost-perfection is what “publication ready” is all about.
It’s also important to bear in mind that each of these additional quality passes also costs time. To go from commercial quality to near publication ready takes an additional day, and to go from there to publication ready takes another.
So, you can get to very good, perfectly usable level of quality for one level of cost, and then after that each additional level of polish costs nearly as much again, for steadily diminishing results, while steadily extending the required turnaround time.
At Babbletype, our goal is to deliver an optimal balance of quality, price and turnaround that fits the needs of the majority of our clients. All clients need good quality work, but not in isolation.
Budgets are tight and they also need the lowest prices they can find. Almost no one is willing to pay the scale of additional cost required, for the diminishing returns obtained, for a document that will generally be used once in support of a single study.
Turnaround is also tight, and our market research clients generally need their work fast, and very few are willing to wait an extra day for that extra 0.9%. Deadlines are too pressing.
For the majority of market research clients, the right balance is a 99% accurate, commercial level of quality, at a low price, in a couple of days, and that is how Babbletype designs our services.
We recognize that a minority of clients do need that extra 0.9% increment in quality, and we offer an Extended Editing service for an additional fee. This additional production step adds one day to Babbletype’s standard turnaround times. See our Options page for more information.