Made Convenient and Cheap by Using Something You Already Own: Your
~by Troy Henley, Columbus Bar Association
When you hear the words “automatic transcription”, the
first thing that may come to mind is the software suite called Dragon
Naturally Speaking. Not a bad program at all….but you have
to tweak the software a little and speak with an annunciated, staccato
manner. That inevitably restricts your free flowing thoughts. The
need for a PC also limits your ability to dictate, you don’t
have the flexibility of dictating while on the go. What if a human
were performing the transcription instead of a software program?
Not a technological breakthrough, right? But when you combine a
small army of transcribers and you integrate it seamlessly with
your cell phone AND the transcription is performed immediately and
then emailed to you…that is something all together different.
new voicemail-to-text companies can provide this service to you.
Though their original intent was to integrate voicemail transcriptions
into your email program (I never miss voicemail messages this way),
it can also serve as a quick transcription service for short letters.
There is no forward or reverse when using these services, so it’s
a quick and dirty method for dictation. But if you are looking for
ultimate mobility, cost savings and speed of the transcription process,
this might be for you.
transcription systems can cost $500 or more, but by using one of
these novel services with your phone, you can have the benefits
of a digital transcription system on the cheap. It allows you to
dictate from the road and email it to your staff member for final
polishing and delivery. You don’t have to return to the office
just to deliver a dictation tape, it will be there waiting on them
when they arrive in the morning. They’ll appreciate the fact
that it gets roughly transcribed automatically. Having the transcribed
text converted to email is a very handy way or routing content to
staff members, organizing and storing your dictation in separate
Outlook folders or storing it in your case management system as
a computer file.
these voicemail-to-text services because companies that present
themselves specifically as transcription services are much more
expensive. Usually $1.50+ per minute. They are more likely to have
legally trained transcribers and will produce a cleaner transcription,
but at a much higher cost. Plus, I like the benefit of having all
of my voicemail transcribed to email. Many of these services also
offer reasonably price packages for an unlimited number of voicemail-to-text
Destination to Check all Communications
Being able to go to your email account to see all of your communications
is also a wonderful side benefit. This is an important component
of the “unified messaging” concept which includes email,
voicemail and faxes all delivered to your email inbox. It unifies
all forms of communications. But unified messaging is a topic for
another day. Onto transcription services!
Discrete Method for Checking Voicemail Messages
It’s a lot easier to read a voicemail then to go through all
the phone prompts to get to voicemail. There are many situations
where holding your phone to ear would be inappropriate (courtroom,
meeting, cinema, restaurant table) but you can discreetly read your
transcribed voicemail by holding the phone out of site of others
and catching up on messages. Since I am already using my email program
all day, there is that added convenience.
Time to Test Drive
Try one of these companies’ free trials. Configure the account
to work with your cell phone number and email account. After the
setup is complete, call the phone number that you associated with
your dictation\transcription service. Dictate directly to your voicemail…in
a few moments you will have the dictation transcribed to text. Forward
the email to your staff for polishing into a finished letter. You
don’t have to wait until the next hour or next day to have
the transcription, it is completed within minutes.
of my favorite services for voicemail-to-text transcription is VoiceCloud.
They include the actual voice recording as an email attachment (PhoneTab
also functions this way). If there is any trouble with call quality
and the service has problems transcribing your message, you can
always have a staff member playback the audio recording of your
message on their PC.
of these services cap the length of the message, so you will want
to explore your options unless you want to dictate a letter in 30
second snippets (no thanks!). These other services are best suited
to leaving yourself or others “text reminders” instead
of any meaningful dictation.
System for Digital Dictation Using your Cell Phone
Many cell phones come with an audio recorder that allows you to
record messages to a computer file and email them. There are also
add-on programs that give many cell phones this capability or expand
on your cell phone’s built-in recording abilities (Audacity
assume you don’t want to spend the monthly fee on these phone
voicemail-to-text transcription services listed above or their recording
times are too short for your purposes. For a one-time investment,
you can purchase the necessary equipment that would allow staff
members to control the playback of audio recordings made on your
cell. That way you can still electronically route a dictation computer
file to your staff, have the convenience of using your cell phone
to dictate, and gaining access to the more powerful recording features
you have grown accustomed to when dictating (fast forward, reverse,
marking). Your staff member would have the familiar transcription
foot pedals and controls they are accustomed to even though the
recording is an audio computer file and not a tape.
Ohio company, www.transcriptiongear.com
sells playback software and foot pedals that give staff members
all of the playback control they enjoy with the traditional cassette
tape-based transcription systems. Follow this
link to a complete transcription package for audio
voicemail transcription services with a human behind the curtain:
* (formerly Simulscribe)
powered transcription services:
transcription services targeting the legal community:
outsourcing of audio and video transcription:
*PhoneTag is restricted to 60, 90, 120 second message
lengths depending on which package you purchase. All of these services
have tight constraints on the length of the message that gets transcribed.
Vonage phone service offers an add-on with their
home\business accounts known as Visual Voicemail. It will transcribe
the first two minutes of every message into text and then you have
the option of emailing it to one of 5 email addresses that you have