Switching to Envoy
Changing the way your firm handles its foreign renewal payments can seem quite daunting – but it may be easier than you think! Envoy is here to help.
If your firm is thinking about switching to Envoy, but you're not sure what's involved, this article is for you. We answer all the usual questions asked by our customers, and we look at how to make the change as smooth as possible.
This article covers:
- Starting with a Free Trial
- "I like the look of Envoy, but..."
- Placing your first real instruction with Envoy
- Envoy's pre-payment model
- Making the switch as smooth as possible
- Increasing the efficiency of your renewals process
1. Starting with a Free Trial
The best way to appreciate the ease-of-use and benefits of switching to Envoy is to request a free trial. The free trial gives you complete access to the Envoy system – including all features, functionality and pricing.
To help you get the most out of your free trial, here are four useful tips:
- Take the tutorial
On the home screen, there's a link to the tutorial. The tutorial will step you through the system. It's quick, easy, and fun!
- Press the 'Instruct' button
After you have obtained a price, you can press the 'Instruct' button. Because it's only a trial account, your instructions will not be acted upon and you'll incur no costs. When you press the 'Instruct' button you'll see that your case moves to the 'Progress' section and a sample invoice has been emailed to the 'accounts' email address set up for your trial account.
- Use Batch
Batch enables you to upload a single spreadsheet to get instant prices for several cases at once. Batch makes Envoy very powerful and efficient. You can download an example Batch spreadsheet from the system and open it in Microsoft Excel to see how rows of cases are entered. Add your own cases, save the file, and upload it to the Envoy system. You'll see how quick and easy it is to get instant prices for literally hundreds of cases.
- Add users
You can allow others in your organisation to try Envoy by giving them access to your trial account. Once you've logged into Envoy, click on the 'My Account' link at the top right of the screen. Then click on the 'Users' button. You can then add as many users as you like.
Trial accounts remain active for 90 days to give you plenty of time to explore the Envoy system. Of course, you can become a customer at any time! You don't have to wait for the trial period to end.
2. "I like the look of Envoy, but..."
We understand that switching to a new renewals provider can be a bit nerve-wracking! You may still have questions, even after you've trialled our system and like the way it works.
Here are some answers to the common questions we are asked by firms that are contemplating switching to Envoy:
- How do we know that Envoy will actually renew the case?
Good question! The reality is that our business depends on us successfully undertaking each and every renewal instruction. Since we began trading in July 2009, we have renewed tens of thousands of cases for our customers around the world. We are also supported by a global network of contracted suppliers. All of our suppliers are qualified IP professionals and authorised to act in the IP jurisdiction in which the renewal will be undertaken.
- What happens if my previous provider renews the case?
Sometimes when new customers switch to Envoy, they forget to tell their existing renewals provider to stop renewing their cases. In this instance we occasionally discover that the case has already been paid, in which case we can normally issue a refund. There is no risk that the case does not get renewed.
- Can I cancel an instruction?
Yes. If you discover a case has already been paid, or your client changes their mind, you can log into our system and press the 'cancel' button to cancel a payment. A full refund is provided when we have not yet instructed our supplier. A partial refund may be possible even after we've instructed our supplier. No refund is possible if our supplier has already made payment to the official office and the case has been renewed.
- What happens if we instruct late?
No problem! We regularly accept late instructions and our system automatically calculates grace periods and adjusts the prices accordingly. Often we are able to affect payment on the same day as receiving the instruction. However, in some circumstances the time zones of the countries in which the renewal is to take place may make this impossible. When we receive an instruction on the last day of a fatal deadline, we let you know immediately if it is possible to make payment before accepting the instruction.
- Can I use a particular agent?
Yes. You can specify an alternative agent in any territory, however we are unable to guarantee or offer a fixed price for the renewal as the alternative agent may not be able to match the prices we have negotiated with our contracted suppliers.
- Do I need a Power of Attorney?
Sometimes. A few territories require a Power of Attorney for the payment of an annuity. For these territories all the forms you need are available on the system. Simply download them and send them to your client for completion. Normally the Power of Attorney only needs to be signed once by your client as we are able to use the same form for subsequent renewals. However, if you don't want to trouble your client with a new Power of Attorney, you may specify a particular agent as detailed above. In every case, our service team will explain exactly what is required for each instruction.
- Does using Envoy commit me to Envoy?
No. You can use Envoy as frequently, or infrequently, as you wish. There is no volume requirement, no ongoing fees and no account expiry. We provide an 'on-demand' renewals service. When you have a case you'd like us to renew – we're here for you.
- Is Envoy insured?
Yes. Envoy has obtained appropriate levels of professional indemnity cover through the specialist provider PAMIA.
3. Placing your first real instruction with Envoy
When you're ready to instruct Envoy with a real case, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning us at +44 141 241 6250. If you have a trial account we'll switch it over to being a 'real' customer account (there are no costs associated with having an Envoy account). A real customer account is exactly like the trial account – the only difference between the two accounts is that when you press the 'instruct' button we will actually act on your instructions.
When you tell us you're ready to switch to a real account, we'll also send you bank details for you to deposit money into your Envoy pre-payment account. Envoy's pre-payment model means that you need to have money in your deposit account before you can place instructions – once you have funds in your account, you're ready to go! You can of course switch to a real account, upload cases to the Envoy system to get prices, and then wait until you have confirmation from your clients before you deposit money into your Envoy account.
For that reason, some customers prefer to start by giving us just one or two cases and then increasing their volumes once they're comfortable with our process.
4. Envoy's pre-payment model
We appreciate that moving to a pre-payment model can cause cash flow difficulties for some organisations. Here are three potential solutions that have worked for our customers:
- Start with a small number of instructions to Envoy, and gradually increase the number as cash flow allows.
- Send your client earlier reminders and seek full payment from your clients before or at the time of instructing Envoy.
- Apply for credit from Envoy. In a limited number of circumstances we have been able to provide credit to customers on a rolling 30-day basis.
We would be more than happy to discuss these options in greater detail if required.
5. Making the switch as smooth as possible
Here are some suggestions to help ensure that your first instructions go smoothly:
- Keep your accounts department happy!
When you place an instruction, an invoice is instantly generated and emailed to the 'accounts' email address you entered when you created your Envoy Trial Account. It's a good idea to make sure that this email address is correct, and that your accounts department know it's coming. Our system can actually produce invoices in any format you require, so if your accounts department would like the invoices in a different format (eg a CSV file) or different information on the invoices, just let us know.
- Double-check the case details
It is your responsibility to provide us with accurate information about cases you wish us to renew. However we do review the details of each case that you instruct us to undertake. Our supplier also checks the details. If we see any issues we let you know immediately. It's normally very easy to correct any errors or discrepancies. In situations where we do change the details of a case instructed to us, our system automatically sends you a change confirmation email that you can keep for your records. The first few instructions from new customers often require some minor changes (such as swapping the application and grant numbers over). However, this is a normal part of the process of getting familiar with Envoy's system and nothing to be concerned about. In fact, most of our customers appreciate the fact that we check their data and highlight discrepancies as this improves the accuracy and quality of their records.
- Monitor progress
You can log into our system and monitor the payment progress for any instruction (from the 'Progress' screen). What you may notice is that we don't immediately send your instruction on to one of our suppliers. That is because it's more efficient for us (and our suppliers) if we wait until we have a large number of instructions for the same territory before instructing our supplier. This is how we are able to provide such competitive pricing. However, if we get an urgent instruction you'll see that we do immediately instruct our supplier to make sure payment is made on time. Our suppliers are very flexible and very responsive.
- When should you mark the case as paid or completed?
As soon as you place an instruction, our system calculates the next due date for the case. Some of our customers enter this date into their case management software and mark the case as paid. On the 'Progress' screen of our system you will see that one of the progress-milestones is 'payment in hand' – this is the point at which our supplier has confirmed receipt of our instruction and told us that payment is being made. Some of our customers use this milestone as the point at which they mark the case as paid on their records. However, we don't mark the case as completed and move it on to the 'Completed' screen until we've received the official receipt. You can download the official receipts from the 'Completed' screen.
- Ask questions!
Envoy provides unlimited phone support. If you have questions about your cases, any required forms, instruction deadlines or other technical questions about our system, we'd be pleased to hear from you.
6. Increasing the efficiency of your renewals process
Once you are satisfied that Envoy provides a great service, we expect you'll want to place more and more instructions as efficiently as possible. There are several ways to increase the speed of your renewals processing.
- Use Batch
Batch lets you upload a spread sheet of multiple cases to instantly get prices and place instructions. Batch means that you can process literally hundreds of cases simultaneously. Batch makes using Envoy fast! You may already be comfortable with using Batch from your trial, but if you want more help you'll find detailed instructions for how to use Batch and correctly format your spreadsheets on the system.
- Integrating with your case management/docketing software
The real key to increasing the speed of your renewals process is to get your case management software to automatically produce Batch spreadsheets that you can upload straight into the Envoy system. Several of our customers have added a 'button' to their case management system which exports the selected cases straight into an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file. This file can then be uploaded into Batch. This makes the process of getting prices and placing instructions very easy and very quick. If you'd like to know more about how to get your case management system to export suitable spreadsheet files, please give us a call and we can liaise with your IT department as necessary.
Also, you can potentially increase your processing speed if you are able to download spreadsheets from the Envoy system and upload them directly into your case management system. For example, you can select a group of cases on the 'Added' screen of the Envoy system and then click the 'download' button to download a spreadsheet of your cases with our prices. You can then upload this spreadsheet into your system so that our prices are in your system and ready for you to send reminder notices to your clients. Again, if you'd like to find out more about how you can get the Envoy system talking to your system, please contact us.
- Flexible invoicing
When you place an instruction with Envoy, an instant invoice is created in PDF format and emailed to the 'accounts' email address you provided when you set up your Envoy account. Our invoicing system is actually infinitely flexible. We can produce instant invoices in PDF, or Excel or CSV format. Alternatively, we can also produce monthly invoices. Basically, we can provide invoices in any format and whenever your accounts department wants them (eg instantly or monthly etc). To speed up the end-to-end renewals process, we recommend you talk to your accounts department and find out what they want – we can then make sure we make it as easy as possible for them to process our invoices.
- Ask for help!
Don't be afraid to ask for help setting up the renewals process at your end – logistics permitting, we may even be able to come and sit with you in your office to observe your renewals process and make suggestions for how it could be made more efficient. As always, we're here to help!
From time to time we publish articles on the Envoy website. The articles relate to Envoy and the IP renewals marketplace.
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