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Using transcription for your user research can help you get more organized and keep track of exactly what was said in research sessions.
So how can you use transcription to improve your research process? There are tons of different options out there, but in this article, we’ll go over how transcriptions can help you at different points of the research process.
Stakeholder interviews are an incredibly important part of the research cycle. They help researchers and stakeholders, like product teams, C-level executives, or engineers understand each other and the research process a little better.
As a researcher, stakeholder interviews can be the key to generating buy-in for your project, understanding what everyone’s expectations are from research, and ultimately putting your research in the best position to show demonstrable effects on your business.
Since stakeholder interviews are so important, having a record of what happens during them can help keep everyone accountable and on track. Just like a user interview, it’s possible to leave a stakeholder interview with a less than perfect memory of what happened, or to misunderstand what the stakeholder is really trying to say. Transcriptions help to fill in the blanks or provide a reference if you can’t remember exactly what someone said about an important part of your project.
The transcriptions of your stakeholder interviews will likely only be used for you and your team’s reference, rather than shared in a presentation like participant session transcriptions. Depending on your budget, you could use human or AI generated transcripts.
Rev, a popular transcription tool, offers both human and AI-generated transcripts. The more accurate human-generated transcripts are $1.25 per minute of transcription. Their AI-generated ones start at $0.25 a minute. Whichever option suits your budget, Rev is offering a $15 off coupon to User Interviews readers, grab it here.
As far as applying your stakeholder interview transcripts, they can be used to steer your conversations and help you create better note-taking templates before you actually do any research with participants.
When we chatted with Caitria O’Neill, UX Researcher at Google, about creating better research presentations, she highlighted the importance of honing in on stakeholder’s points of view before conducting research and then bringing that knowledge to your presentation.
“For a typical study, let's say a usability study where the product is in flight and we're trying to figure out what to build. I will generally throw a meeting where I have the product manager, the designers, data scientists, and maybe one or two of the front end folks come and sit down, and then go through where the product is at, so I'll have the designer walk through.
[Then I] take down everyone's questions, what they're worried about, what they hypothesize. And then, I add those to my own questions that I have about the product at that stage, so that I have some insight into what this study ideally needs to answer. I frame my questions around that. But, I also know from that point on, I know what the report needs to say, so I'm already able to have a template for my notes before I start my sessions. So, I know for each session I need to answer these different five categories. I need it, details on this, so I can almost spreadsheet it out at that point.”
Having a transcription of your stakeholder interviews can help you find patterns and frequently asked questions from each stakeholder. Take notes during each meeting and try to identify themes as you go along. Once you’ve completed your interviews, identify the top themes and where they rank for each stakeholder. This can help you to better understand what everyone would most like to see from the results and build an impactful presentation.
Once you’ve done that, templating out your interview notes and presentation, like Caitria describes, is a breeze! You’ll be able to identify what’s most important to your stakeholders, highlight those things in your research, and easily refer back to them in your report.
Not everyone transcribes their stakeholder interviews. The most common reason people use transcription for research is to make their data analysis and reporting easier after the session. Transcription helps researchers keep track of exactly what happened during a session and when it happened. It also makes it easy to pull quotes from research sessions to illustrate to stakeholders the importance of what you learned during research.
Holly Hester-Reilly, a research consultant and founder of H2R Product Science, highlighted the importance of being able to bring these quotes, clips, and artifacts to stakeholders at the end of the research process:
“[Researchers] say, "we did 15 user interviews and ran a survey with a few hundred people and from that we learned people in our customer market have certain traits like they are willing to pay more and they are excited about this particular aspect" but they don't actually bring out quotes and videos and stories that other people in their company can really hang on to as ways to empathize with those people.
And it's not that making that synthesis isn't important, it's good to help people come to conclusions based on what you've learned, but the problem is that if you actually make the synthesis and don't bring the stories, don't bring the videos, the pictures, the quotes, then it's just human nature that the people on the receiving side won't empathize as strongly with the customer that you're trying to make them feel deeply empathized with.”
Transcribing your research sessions is most effective when you have accurate transcripts that you don’t have to spend time correcting. So we’d recommend going with real live human transcription instead of AI generated. It’s more accurate and you’ll spend less time correcting the transcription and more time analyzing your findings.
Rev is a great tool for human transcription, with prices starting at $1.25 a minute. They’ve also shared a $15 off coupon for User Interviews readers, grab it here.
We’ve used them in the past for our podcast transcriptions, and they’re typically much more accurate than the AI-generated alternatives. Plus, Rev has a sweet suite of tools in their platform, like folders for organizing different projects and a searchable database of all your transcriptions.
Once you have your transcriptions, you can use them with the notes you took during your sessions to make data analysis easier. Start by identifying key themes that emerged during your user interviews. You probably already have a good idea of what these are, especially if you did stakeholder interviews beforehand. These themes will help you tag and organize your interviews, as well as identifying the best quote to highlight each one.
Pro tip: Use the note-taking template in our user interview launch kit to take automatically time-stamped notes. This makes finding the right moment in your transcript a breeze.
After you’ve gathered and identified your themes, search through your transcripts and notes for moments that really highlight each theme. For example, if your study is about a new pricing structure, a theme could be “users didn’t understand the difference between tier 1 and tier 2.” To illustrate this in your research report, you could pull a quote from your session, or use your transcript to find the right moment in your session recording to show to stakeholders.
Being able to pull the right moments to make what you learn in your research impactful to stakeholders is incredibly important to how your work is viewed as a whole. Using quotes from your sessions can help build empathy with stakeholders, which in turn can help you build more buy-in for research in general. We hope this helps you get started with transcription in your research practice and increase buy-in for research!
Carrie Boyd is a UXR content wiz, formerly at User Interviews. She loves writing, traveling, and learning new things. You can typically find her hunched over her computer with a cup of coffee the size of her face.