Customer appointment management scheduling software falls under two categories: desktop applications and web-based systems (also known as software as a service).
Desktop applications are programs that are usually licensed and installed on end-user maintained computer hardware. Such programs are generally very robust in terms of features and reporting, and can often be customized, but one downside is that desktop applications often do not have an online portal for staff or customer access.] As well, installed applications may require ongoing maintenance, support, and upgrading by the end-user.
Web-based systems are usually provided by a third-party service provider that offers appointment scheduling tools and features as a hosted software solution, usually provided via a web browser. One common benefit is that customers are provided the option of booking their own appointments. This facilitates appointment scheduling over the web as customers can access their usual professionals’ schedules at their convenience and make appointments online through the Internet.
Regardless of whether the application is desktop-based or web-based, most appointment scheduling software has four primary functions:
- Integration with employee, member, and customer data
- Calendar system connected to a master database
- Ability to operate and analyze calendar data
- Permissions system
Different pricing models are available. While the traditional software licensing model of a one-time licensing fee predominates for desktop applications; subscription-based, advertising-based, per-use, fee-per booking and free web-based systems are also available.