Keen to win hotly contested contracts, Transcription City’s MD, Sam Wood, turned to ISO standards for help.
After an eleven-year stint as a transcriptionist and PA, plus nine years of delivering fitness training, Sam Wood was ready to throw all her energies into building a transcription business of her own. She founded Transcription City in 2011 from her flat in London and began delivering transcription services, using a network of carefully vetted transcriptionists. Within ten years, Transcription City had a solid reputation for delivering high-quality transcription, subtitling and translation services across a range of sectors, including medical, legal and commercial. Clients included individuals (such as journalists), businesses and even the United Nations and UNICEF.
After ten years of solid growth, and with plans in place for future expansion, COVID-19 began to threaten the stability of the company. “Transcription and translation always has an element of ‘feast or famine’ to it,” explains Sam. She adds, “So, when lockdown came, I began to feel nervous.” As face-to-face meetings dried up, Sam was faced with a stark choice: find new opportunities or watch her carefully crafted business shrink.
Rather than sitting around worrying about her business, Sam decided to split her time constructively between working in the business, working on the business and looking after her lively one-year-old. With her original growth plans in mind, she realised that she could make the most of the quiet time by strengthening the business in readiness for growth.
Sam had no prior experience of ISO standards but had recognised the demand for ISO as part of government tenders, a market which she had earmarked. She knew that many transcription or translation businesses have ISO9001, the quality management standard, but few have ISO27001, the information security standard. However, both standards are often required by the government. She knew that ISO 27001 in particular would also be welcomed by clients with confidential data, such as legal and medical firms. Sam realised that combining the two standards would provide Transcription City with a competitive advantage and became determined to achieve certification during lockdown.
However, Sam’s lack of experience with ISO meant she found the initial implementation hard going. She comments, “It was more work than I’d expected. I soon realised I needed help to fully understand the requirements and embed the standards so they would work for my business. I approached the British Assessment Bureau for help. They recommended Risk Evolves.”
TAKING A COLLABORATIVE APPROACH
Following an initial call in late April, we lined up three of our ISO specialists to support Sam: Helen (our MD), Andy and Roger. Although it was impossible to meet Sam in person, due to lockdown, we soon built up a picture of her business and her needs. Working in partnership, we identified the actions that she needed to take and created customised processes and procedures that would work for the business. Whilst doing so, our pragmatic and jargon free approach ensured that Sam understood why we were making recommendations and helped grow her confidence. Our goal is to make ISO accessible, so we further simplified the certification process by liaising with the British Assessment Bureau Ltd (BAB) to ensure that the remote audit would proceed smoothly.
By the end of 12 weeks, Sam had achieved her goal. Not only had Transcription City achieved certification to both ISO9001 and ISO27001, it had also launched a new service. As part of the ISO process, we’d helped Sam identify new opportunities for the business, including the development of a service catering for the growing Zoom market. She explains. “Online audiences are easily distracted. Providing Zoom transcriptions, in English or in another language, helps to keep audiences engaged. Our new service was immediately popular amongst businesses keen to ensure that their online communications continued to hit the mark.”
Now that the return to normality is approaching, Sam is confident that the business is in a position to tender for larger contracts and to scale efficiently, thanks to its ISO certified processes and procedures. As part of the tendering process, she’ll be able to include a statement from her ISO assessors, BAB, who commented, “We were delighted to be able to issue Transcription City with a UKAS-accredited certificate for ISO 9001:2015 & ISO 27001:2013, which demonstrates that that they operate to the Internationally recognised quality standards. Achieving ISO 9001 is a testament to their commitment to ensure their products or services meet the needs of customers through an effective quality management system. Additionally, by achieving ISO 27001 they have demonstrated an IT security management system is in place to safeguard information and data, whether this is online or offline.”
Delivering a great service is nothing new to Transcription City. Referrals have supported the business’s steady growth since inception. However, Sam reviewed the customer feedback process as part of ISO9001 and now plans to spend more time collating online customer reviews. According to research, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation and 68% form an opinion after reading between one and six reviews. This combination of online reviews, ISO certifications and referrals will give potential clients the reassurance they need to work with Transcription City for the first time.
Sam’s top tips:
- Find someone who will explain what’s needed. It makes a massive difference to have a bit of help, so you understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
- ISO makes organising everything easier. You don’t have to invent the wheel for complicated tenders every time. However, don’t expect your new processes to become familiar and second nature straight away.
- Make sure that you tell your potential clients about your achievement. We’re updating our website and collateral to explain why our certifications are important to clients, i.e. their sensitive information won’t get lost or end up somewhere it shouldn’t.
Achieving ISO certification is a great way to stand out from your competition, but it’s only effective if you tell prospects what it means for them. All our clients are sent a Promotion Power Pack to help them use their websites, sales collateral and social media to communicate the benefits of ISO certification.
The SWOT and PESTLE analysis within ISO9001 and ISO27001 can help you recognise new opportunities, such as providing transcriptions of Zoom meetings or YouTube videos. Collating customer feedback as part of ISO9001 will also help!
Protecting clients and your reputation
Savvy clients are increasingly aware of the value of their data and the risk of cyber-attack. They look beyond the service to understand if a business will meet their needs in a safe way. ISO27001 helps to reassure Transcription City’s clients that the firm has taken an industry leading approach to safeguarding data.
ISO27001 is one of the fastest growing standards, frequently appearing in supply chain questionnaires. If your business isn’t quite ready for ISO27001, speak to us about IASME instead.
Sam Wood, Founder of Transcription City