How not to transcribe!

How not to transcribe!

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How not to transcribe!

Posted By Cathy Bennett

How not to transcribe!

In previous blogs we have given quite a bit of thought to what makes for good transcription, but I was recently given cause to turn things on their head and consider what shockingly bad transcription might be like.  Not only how difficult it might be to understand, but also what effects a poorly laid out, unchecked piece of work might have on the reader.

A week or so ago, I wrote to the dealership where I’d bought my car as there were a few issues which needed sorting out.  The General Manager replied in writing and, in fairness, he did respond very promptly – but I’m afraid that’s about the best I can say about his letter!  But rather than try to explain, I’ll let his missive speak for itself, so here’s part of his reply:

The reply (gaps and spelling errors made by the car dealer, not us)!

“Your front breaks was checked as part of service and showed some wear     in line with the mileages covered however they were perfectly serviceable and was not requiring replacing at this time.  Now that you have brought your car back       we have checked them and reported that     they are now 70% worn and could do with replacing at some point now , the timescale on this largely depends on driving style and      use/ mileage etc, howeiver I would like to replace them for you and as a goodwill gesture     and offer a discount of 25% on doing so , further   more at the same time    look at the two warranty concern that you have raised , with regard to your service , as I have said earlier …”

My feelings after reading the letter

That particular sentence rambles on for a further five or six lines, but I hope that excerpt’s enough to give the gist.  (Aside from anything else, I’d prefer not to copy any more of it; it’s quite hard for a trained typist to replicate nonsense like that without tidying it up and trying to make sense of it.  Actually, it’s more than hard, it’s positively painful!)

As I say, this all set me to thinking about transcription – receiving such a prime example of how to upset your customers by sending out careless and shoddy letters made me realise transcribing is not only about getting things right, it’s also about not getting them completely wrong.

The manager’s letter to me should have set out to answer my immediate questions, but it should also have convinced me there was a high level of care and professionalism in the way the business was run.  I was already upset and having my doubts when I wrote; I needed reassuring that I was an important customer, that my concerns were valid and would be dealt with, and that this was a garage which would look after my car very well.

A first step to achieving all this – aside from useful content, of course – would be to send a beautifully presented letter.  That would give a good immediate impression, and would encourage me to believe that some thought had been given to me, my car, and the issues in question. 

Bad impression

On the other hand, a letter riddled with typos, grammatical errors, incorrect syntax, random spaces between words, and spelling mistakes was never going to do anything but irritate me and persuade me I was right to feel rather dubious about things.  Really, I’d find it very hard indeed to entrust replacing my car’s brakes to a business which wants to change the “breaks” (I sincerely hope my car has no breaks!).

Proof reading and checking imperative

All in all, although the General Manager’s letter was sent with impressive speed, I can’t help feeling he should have read it before signing – it’s quite obvious that his dictation was mindlessly typed and not checked at all, either by the typist or the manager.  As a result, when I first saw the letter, I was impressed to have such a quick response … but that positive feeling evaporated as soon as I opened the envelope.  In the end, I was left feeling totally confused and unhappy – and very far from being a valued customer. 

Use a transcription company if your English skills are not up to par!

At Fingertips we realise how very important first impressions can be; not only does a well-presented, professional-looking document produce a positive response, but a poorly laid out, ungrammatical letter will never encourage a customer to deal with the company sending it.  So all of our typists take the time to read through and check their work – after all, if we impress your customers, we also impress you.

And as far as the car dealership is concerned, I am left with only one question: should I recommend Fingertips for all the General Manager’s future audio transcription!  

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