There are currently 30 words in this directory
API stands for application programming interface. An API is a way to programmatically interact with other software components or resources. Vendors that provide Appointment Scheduling and Booking software may offer APIs to their customers to allow custom interfaces or workflows. Typically, these are Enterprise solutions that can provide Software as a Service (SaaS) and allow more complex capabilities than offered "out of the box". See Vendors that provide API Capability
An Appointment confirmation is a message that is sent immediately after a user schedules an appointment or booking. Typically, these messages are sent via Email, and may include an .ics file attachment. In addition to email, the user can request an SMS text message, which requires an explicit opt-in from the user and a mobile phone number.
An Appointment reminder is a message that is sent some period of time after a user schedules an appointment or booking. Typically, these messages are sent via Email. In addition to email, the user can receive an SMS text message or voice message as a reminder. Scheduling software usually allows configurable rules for when to send a reminder, or how many to send. For example, a rule might be set to send a reminder 24 hours in advance of the appointment, and again one hour before the appointment.
Appointment scheduling allows a business or person to offer an appointment invitation to another person, from a calendar showing available dates and times. The person receiving the appointment invitation can then pick a date and time convenient to them. Appointments may have different durations, and may be either a specific physical location, or via a phone call or video conference meeting. Learn More about Appointment Scheduling
Appointments on Facebook
Appointments on Facebook is a free light-weight scheduling tool provided by Facebook that uses the "Book Now" button on a Facebook business or Instagram page. Facebook also offers connectivity to Vendors that integrate with Facebook, or the ability to use your own Booking link. Learn More about Appointments on Facebook
Blocked times are those periods in the publicly visible appointment schedule when staff is not available to meet with customers. Blocked times may be due to resource (staff) constraints, lunch hours, or for any reason that times can not be made available. Appointment scheduling systems typically allow blocking of time periods to be done on a “one off” or recurring basis (e.g., block all times Noon-1PM every business day).
Appointment Booking is defined as “the act of reserving accommodations, travel, etc., or of buying a ticket in advance” but more generally applies to creating a calendar event with specific participants, activity description, date, time, and duration. Also, “To Book” is the action that a person takes to make the appointment. Bookings may be created from self-serve, web or mobile based systems, or can be accessed by staff who use a system in a call center or business. Learn More about Booking
CalConnectSM focuses on the interoperable exchange of calendaring and scheduling information between dissimilar programs, platforms, and technologies. They are a non-profit partnership between vendors and users of collaboration systems and tools, in particular calendaring and scheduling. Their purpose is to improve all aspects of collaboration services, in particular calendaring and scheduling. CalConnect also works with other major international standards organizations such as ISO and OASIS. Learn More about CalConnect
Calendar of Record
A system of record (SOR) is a general term for software running a database that is the authoritative data source for a piece of information. In the Appointment Scheduling or Booking scenario, this is the "Calendar of Record", and can either be employee's own personal calendars, a Workforce Management system, or any other calendar. Typically the Appointment Scheduling or Booking software will synchronize to the Calendar of Record to ensure there is no double-booking.
Chain appointments allow customers to book several services during a single visit. Customers can choose multiple services from different service providers, and the entire “appointment” can be treated as a block with a single notification and cancellation ability available to the customer. For example, if an auto repair appointment requires multiple activities such as a brake repair, oil change, and inspection (which may require a different specialist), the system will ensure that the calendar of the resources required will be properly allocated. Related to chain appointments is “Dependency”, where activities must be performed in a specific order.
Clustering is the practice of scheduling similar types of appointments or customers on the same day, or part of the day. For example, medical practices may schedule patients in this way to optimize the use of staff availability, equipment or rooms.
Double booking occurs when two or more customers or resources are booked at the same time. Appointment scheduling systems are normally set up to “block” slots that are already booked. This ensures that no more than a single customer is booked at a time. In some situations, for example with medical booking systems, double-booking may be allowed. For example, an urgent request for a same-day appointment may be double-booked. Another option is to allow multiple bookings per time slot, with the understanding that staff may be reallocated if more than one appointment is made.
First Party Booking
First party booking refers to the manner in which a customer makes an appointment, specifically if the data you collect (name, email address, phone, etc.) is collected directly from your customer by you. This would include your website, mobile app, or even an in-person appointment made at your location in person. Second party data is information that you didn't collect yourself directly. This can happen when an appointment is made on a partner site and shared directly with you.
Fixed scheduling is the norm for most appointments made for retail establishments, or for business-to-business calls, where customer convenience is the primary concern. Typically, appointments are offered at intervals (e.g., every 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes). The customer expectation is that when they “arrive” in person or virtually, the appointment will begin with the person(s) and resources they have scheduled with. In medical practices, alternatives to Fixed Scheduling include Wave and Modified Wave approaches, which do not guarantee the customer will be served immediately on arrival.
Free-busy is a method that Appointment Scheduling and Booking vendors use to retrieve a list of free and busy periods for a particular calendar user or resource (usually, a person). When setting up a calendar, a user's calendar can be marked as busy, free, busy-unavailable ("out of office") and busy-tentative. By only asking for "Free-Busy" times, software can avoid seeing the specific details of an appointment. This protects the user's privacy, but still allow a schedule to be checked for available times.
Google Assistant is an artificial intelligence agent that will place a phone call your business to fulfill a customer's appointment request. Google uses this currently for restaurants and hair salons, and is rolling this out to other businesses. Customers who find your business using Google Search, Maps or Assistant can ask Assistant to call your business “on their behalf” using this system. Learn More about Google Assistant
iCalendar (.ics) Files
iCalendar is a computer file format which allows users to share calendars with other users by sharing files with an extension of .ics. iCalendar is used and supported by a large number of products, including Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and Microsoft Outlook. Many Appointment Scheduling and Booking vendors will send .ics files to users who have scheduled or booked an appointment as an attachment to the Appointment Confirmation email. This ensures that the scheduled activity will appear on the user's calendar.
Microsoft Bookings is a scheduling tool that is part of with the Microsoft Office family. Microsoft Bookings is a basic solution that can schedule and sync with the Outlook calendar. Clients can book a time and service, get a confirmation email and calendar invitation, reschedule or cancel. The solution has light-weight functionality relative to most third-party vendor solutions. Integration with video conferencing is limited to Microsoft Teams (not Zoom), and customization is limited.
Modified Wave Scheduling
Modified wave scheduling, typically used in medical practices, is a hybrid version of Fixed Scheduling and Wave Scheduling. For example, with Modified Wave, if there are four patients scheduled during an hour, rather than scheduling them all at the same start time (the Wave approach), the first two are told to arrive “on the hour” and the second two are told to be there some number of minutes after the first group (e.g., 15, 20, or 30 minutes). This method provides some of the benefits of Wave Scheduling, but lessens the wait times for patients.
A No-show is a customer who does not keep a scheduled appointment. Many appointment scheduling solutions include a workflow management tool to “mark” that the no show occurs, which can help in later analysis and reporting on improving the appointment offers. Also, in the case that the no show is liable for a financial penalty (e.g., no-show fee for a medical appointment or class), the system can communicate with the billing system.
Office 365 Calendar
Office 365 is a Microsoft service provided with the Microsoft Office family of products and services, including the calendar. The calendar is also referred to as Microsoft Outlook. Most Appointment Scheduling software will integrate with the Microsoft Exchange Server, which in turn allows appointments to by properly synchronized within an organization.
Many booking vendors provide the option for payment during the appointment setting process. For example, if a customer purchases a ticket for an event, class, or activity. Vendors provide options to set pricing rules, or offer promotions and discounts. Most solutions have direct payment options using PayPal, Stripe, or other merchant systems. Additional features can include "time dependent" discounts, or to offer e-coupons for one-off discounts.
Queuing is a way of providing an orderly method for people to get a scarce resource in a fair way. Vendors provide queuing software that allows customers to get into a "virtual" waiting line or queue where they don’t have to physically wait in line to get a service. This way, customers are not confined to being "in line" but can wait until they are notified to get served. Many vendors that offer Queuing also offer Booking which is integrated into the overall solution. Learn More about Queuing
Reserve with Google
Reserve with Google lets consumers discover and book personalized appointments, classes and event tickets for local businesses. This can be done directly from Google Search or Google Map results. The Buttons may say “Reserve”, “Book”, or “Schedule”, and may appear on both the web browser and on mobile devices. Reserve with Google was launched in 2017 with a focus on USA based spas, haircuts, and fitness classes. Since that time, it has expanded to include the Americas, Europe, Asia/Pacific, and Africa, and includes many other business categories such as banking, fitness, beauty, and restaurant reservations. Learn More about Reserve with Google
A Resource is defined as anything which can be scheduled--including a person, place, or thing. In a simple scheduling example between two individuals the resource would be an individual setting up a meeting. However, resources can also be rooms, equipment, or any object that is required for an appointment to be successful. Examples of appointments requiring multiple resources include:
- An automotive repair appointment requiring a specific garage space, tools, or a specialist
- A medical appointment requiring a specific room and/or piece of testing equipment (which may be rolled into a room) plus a technician, in addition to physician
- A restaurant reservation requires a table for 8 people, and the system uses multiple resources (tables) to accommodate, for example, combining two person (“2 top”) or four person (“4 top”) tables together to create a larger table at the time requested.
Resource pool scheduling allows you to create groups of similar resources--people or things-- to manage capacity. For example, in the case of Round Robin Scheduling, all business development representatives can be placed in a “pool” that is assigned to all incoming sales appointment requests from the company website, allowing a fair allocation of appointments. Another example is a doctor's office which has a fixed number of rooms to help patients, but chooses to inflate capacity and schedule more appointments than rooms in order to account for cancellations.
Round Robin scheduling is defined as “time slices assigned to each process in equal portions and in circular order”. As applied to appointment scheduling, it describes an approach to assigning people or resources to appointments on a rotating “round robin” fashion to ensure fairness. For example, a sales team may want inbound requests for appointments to be allocated to representatives to ensure each representative receives a similar number of appointments. Enhancements can include correcting for cancellations, reassignments, and no-shows, so that any team member who falls behind will be moved to the “front of the line” to adjust for equal allocation. Round Robin scheduling typically uses a “Resource Pool” for each type of appointment.
Synchronization is the term for linking the Appointment Scheduling system to your existing Calendar of Record. For individuals, this is a Google or Outlook calendar. Synchronization is a critical issue, since without it Double Booking can occur. For larger organizations, synchronization is more challenging since hundreds or thousands of calendars may need to be kept up to date. Enterprise Appointment Scheduling solutions typically will connect directly to Microsoft Exchange servers using APIs to accomplish this task.
Wave Scheduling, typically used in medical practices, optimizes the use of staff resources (e.g., physicians and nurses) at the expense of requiring some patients to wait longer to see a professional. With this approach, instead of scheduling four patients 15 minutes apart, all four are set for the same time (e.g., top of the hour), and the professional sees each one in their sequence of arrival. The first gets seen immediately; the fourth gets seen after the first three. The advantage is that since some patients arrive on time and some are late there is built-in “buffering” to achieve a steady flow. The disadvantage is if all patients arrive on time, the fourth patient has to wait 45 minutes or more to be seen. A hybrid version of this approach is “Modified Wave”, which can reduce the wait times for patients.
Workforce Management (WFM)
Workforce management (WFM) is an integrated set of processes that a company uses to optimize the productivity of their employees. WFM forecasts labor requirements and creates and manages staff schedules to accomplish tasks on a daily and hourly basis. Enterprise-oriented Appointment Scheduling or Booking systems will use the WFM system database as the System of Record for scheduling, rather than personal employee calendars. Typically, companies use WFM software either as part of an integrated HR management suite or as a stand-alone program.