How to Handle Existing Clients Outside of Normal Business Hours (Nights & Weekends)

Sean Lund-Brown

There really aren't any clear-cut lines for individuals in terms of regular working hours in today's busy world. The times of storefronts, factories, and other companies only being open between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm are long gone. Several types of corporations operate around the clock, and the people who work in those facilities often assume that everyone else runs on the same schedule.

As a business owner, operator, or even someone that works within a company that closes on nights and weekends, you likely deal with clients that want your attention and demand your services after you go home for the day. That puts you in a bit of a predicament. You do not want to disappoint your customers, lose out on money, or sacrifice your personal time for work. It's like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

To keep your sanity and satisfy your clientele, there are various actions that you can take to ensure everyone is gratified at the end of the day. Things like setting clear boundaries for office hours, having separate work and home phone numbers, and charging more for services rendered late at night or on Saturdays and Sundays help and limit the number of people demanding your attention when you're trying to recharge for the next day or week ahead.

Smith.ai live virtual receptionist services

At Smith.ai, we have several services available to assist you through frustrating occasions when customers just won't stop calling. Our virtual receptionist is available to answer calls, take messages, and provide information to patrons 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have a social media page like Facebook with instant message notifications for your business that seem to go off nonstop, there is someone at Smith.ai that will respond to them promptly, so you don't lose out on potential revenue.

Between our top-notch answering and intake options and with the information provided to you below, you're going to know exactly what to do when it comes to dealing with existing clients that continuously try to contact you after business hours late at night and on the weekends.

Establish clear cut business hours up front

From the very beginning of your relationship with any client, you should establish clear boundaries for business hours. Let your customers know when you are available to them, and they are more likely to contact you during those times. 

If you have a storefront or physical location, be sure to post your hours in an easy-to-see area. Clients are much less likely to complain if they know you have your hours listed. You can also include these times in places like your Facebook page or on your personal website.

Keep a separate work and personal phone

Operating your business and personal life from the same phone number is one guaranteed method of never getting away from clients that want to reach you after working hours. There are many options out there that are reasonable in price for having two separate phone lines set up.

When you want to turn off the notifications coming from your business line, you can, and your callers will get forwarded to a voicemail system (which we will dive into a little more later on) where you can deal with them at a time that's more suitable for you. Let them know in your voicemail that it's outside of your regular business hours. Encourage them to leave you a message and point out that you won't be checking them until you get back to work the following day.

The one inconvenience to having two separate phone lines is carrying around two phones. If you want to save yourself the hassle, you can always leave one phone behind or even turn it off when your business is closed. It's hard to ignore a phone when it's ringing, so if it's turned off and the callers are getting sent to voicemail or an answering service, you won't be tempted to see who's on the other end.

Turn off instant messaging and text notifications

Along with the phone being turned off, it’s important to do the same with your Facebook instant messaging application and your SMS text messaging. Those are just as enticing to answer as a ringing phone. It’s something about those little alert sounds that grabs attention, and you can’t help but see who’s on the other end.

SMS Text Answering icon

The problem with SMS texting and instant messaging applications is that people are not afraid to use them. Clients might think twice about calling you after hours, but when it comes to typing in a message through these methods, it seems as though people aren’t so worried about disturbing you.

Think about the picture you’re painting for your client when you immediately respond to their text or instant message… and those expectations are even greater when you take action. 

facebook messenger icon

Take this scenario for example:

It’s a Friday night, your messages go off, and a client needs something on their webpage fixed that they noticed was incorrect. You look at the text, remedy the problem, and let them know that everything is cleared up. 

Now they’ve received your time, attention, and energy after hours, with no consequences. What do you think will happen the next time they need help, regardless of the date or time? They’re going to anticipate you will handle it all at no extra charge and within a few minutes. While you think you’re providing customer service, you’re only doing yourself a disservice. 

When you don’t or can’t be so responsive next time, they’ll be disappointed or even angry with you. Can you see now why it’s so essential to turn your phone and messaging notifications off?

If you’re worried about losing existing clients, don’t be! There are other solutions.

Smith.ai 24/7 staffed & managed live chat

With the 24/7 staffed chat, SMS, and social messaging virtual receptionist from Smith.ai, you can leave your platforms open for messaging. Instead of your getting bothered by them, though, our specialists will take care of it. Then, when you're ready for business again on Monday or in the morning, we will have everything organized and prepared for you.

Increase rates for after hours appointments & services

You've likely heard of or experienced increased rates for professionals that are hired for work after hours and on the weekends. Think of an electrician, plumber, or another home contractor. If your furnace goes out on a Sunday night, chances are you're not going to get the same labor rates as you would if it happened on a Monday afternoon. These companies will put the details right on their websites, at their offices, and anywhere clients have access to the company information.

Something may be posted like:

"Regular business hours are 9 am to 6 pm. Our normal days of operation are Monday through Friday. Any labor or services provided after hours, on the weekends, or on holidays is billable at 2x the normal hourly rate."

You might think that posting something like this will deter customers away, but they are likely to respect you more. It shows that you are a professional by setting boundaries and that you value time on both sides of the partnership.

Clients who want your help will make sure to get ahold of you and schedule their services needed when you want to be open, not when they want you to work. It will make you happier in the long run, and if someone does reach out to you and is willing to pay the bigger fee, you are making more money, not less.

Utilize a voicemail tool with features you need

There are a variety of voicemail system types that can be implanted into your business operations, depending on what you want out of it. The traditional voicemail systems are set up to record the incoming voicemails directly into the phone itself. If you have a phone that you leave at the office, you won't be checking those voicemails after hours or on the weekends because you will not have access to them. That's ideal for when you're gone on vacation or have no interest in being disturbed.

Another type is a software voicemail system. When the caller leaves a message, it gets stored on the software, and then it can be sent to a different phone or the owner through an email. You can customize these voice tools to meet your personal preferences and demands.

For example, you don't want to get any calls or voicemails after work Monday through Friday, but you want to know what is happening before you go the following day. Have it arranged to gather all the audio files and send an email at a specific time, like 6:00 am. Then, when you wake up in the morning, you can start sorting through the calls and establishing a strategy for your workday.

Smith.ai will be your voicemail tool with every feature imaginable at your disposal. Instead of your clients getting sent to an automated system, we have a live messaging service that answers the calls at all day and night hours. We share with them whatever information you want to pass along, and we also collect the details that they are trying to get to you. It helps build a stronger relationship with your customers because it seems as though they are speaking to someone sitting right in your office rather than getting a computer or no response.


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Contract with an answering service

Arguably, the most efficient and effective way of dealing with existing clients after hours and on the weekends is hiring someone to handle the phone calls, text messages, emails, and social media messages as they come in. You have a few possibilities:

  • Pay a separate individual as an employee of your company.
  • Rotate the responsibility between people that are already a part of your team.
  • Handle it all yourself.
  • Hire a professional answering service.

When you consider the cost of hiring a company that specializes in answering the phones against what you would pay your employee, the better investment is almost always going to be the trained answering service, like Smith.ai.

You will never face a staff member that fails to do their job, can't work because they're sick, or get stuck with the duty you have been so heavily trying to avoid when you have experts handling it for you. The peace of mind alone that comes with knowing there's always someone there to communicate with your clients is enough for most business operators to take advantage of these types of opportunities.

Do what works for you!

Most of these suggestions are indicative of a business that operates during "normal" working hours. However, if you're a freelancer or a company that stays open at all hours of the day and night, your idea of after hours might be a bit different. That is the beauty of being your own boss, setting your own schedule!

So, if you prefer to take your time off in the middle of the day, for instance, to spend time with your kids or participate in some other mid-day activity, you can still utilize the tips mentioned above but adjust them to fit your preferences. Smith.ai is available around the clock with our 24/7 virtual receptionists ready to work for you whenever you need to step away. In addition to handling the phones for you or your brand, we can perform lead qualification and intake so that you aren't wrapped with calls that are heading nowhere.

Our knowledgeable and highly skilled professionals know what questions need to be asked to determine if the caller on the other end has the potential to be beneficial to you and your profit margins. After we figure out the client's intentions, we can set up a visit based on what you have available with the appointment scheduling feature.

Learn more about that and the plethora of other services we offer at Smith.ai by setting up a free online, live consultation with our dedicated customer care team. If you prefer, you can reach out by email at hello@smith.ai, or you can always do things the old-fashioned way and call us up at (650) 727-6484.

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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