Smoke & Mirrors – Lesson Learned

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We work hard at McGowan Transcriptions to ensure that our work is of a very high standard and we also liaise closely with our clients in order to meet their deadlines and exceed expectations. Recently, we had a short, sharp lesson in the way another transcription agency is working and the fallout from it went on for days.

Very rarely, when we have been fully booked with work, we have asked a client if they would be happy for us to work alongside another agency. We have always taken care to choose agencies whose work is of a high standard and had already carried out a test to check the agency in question. Unusually, on this occasion, our client wished to have the transcripts back by midnight – a less than 12 hour deadline as the files landed after lunch.

Surprisingly, of the three audio files submitted, the shorter one didn’t appear during the day. We kept waiting and waiting, expecting all the files to be sent back to us in one go. The snazzy online dashboard showing the progress of our files stated simply that they were ‘in progress’ and my niggling fears about the job turned into reality: midnight is a pretty grim time to realise you’re not going to meet your client’s deadline and that there’s nothing you can do about it. Our management team stayed in the office until 1.30am in the hope that they were running a little late.

Messages to the agency produced no response until the morning when they claimed they had sent the files… we still didn’t have them. Their system was now working against them and still telling us the files were ‘in progress’. They said there must be a technical malfunction… we still didn’t have the files. Eventually, the following day, after much badgering on our part, the files arrived and were dispatched to our very patient client.

Had this been the end of the story, it would not have been so much of a disaster. As the deadline had long gone, we had no time to carry out our usual quality control checks. The client found woeful errors that went far beyond typos leading us to conclude that the transcript had been typed by a non-native English speaker and had not gone through any checks their end before the transcript was released.

It seems incredible to us that this agency is still operating, and not only operating but thriving as they are a very big agency in the UK. Unfortunately there are many similar transcription agencies out there who have the right image but no quality in terms of what they are actually producing.

I understand that image is very important, and I hope ours exudes quality, especially after our 24 years in business, but it shouldn’t be smoke and mirrors.

We have never subcontracted a recording to another agency without advance client permission and going forward we will not work alongside another agency as we believe we are the best and won’t compromise on quality.

At McGowan Transcriptions you can trust that the end product, your transcript, will exceed expectations. This may mean that we can’t meet midnight deadlines for files that arrive unscheduled after 11am, but what you will receive by 9am the following morning will always be worth the wait.

We aren’t perfect, no-one is, but we are outstanding in our field.