Reach out and annoy someone

Dear Annie: I own a small service business. We have a business phone number, but I also have a cellphone number. The latter is on my business card, and it is obviously the way people prefer to communicate. My problem is that customers don’t hesitate to call me or text me at any hour of the morning or evening and virtually any time over the weekend, as well. It has really gotten out of hand as of late. I find it to be intrusive. I realize they’re just getting something off their list, but they should either hold off or do it via email, in my humble opinion. My problem is how to address this with them without rubbing them the wrong way. — Professional Etiquette Paradox

Dear Professional Etiquette: In recent years, cellphones have started crossing the wires between professional and personal life. I think that’s a shame. Fortunately, this technological problem also has some technological solutions. Consider using a call and text management app, such as Nextiva, GoDaddy SmartLine or Google Voice. Google Voice gives you a separate phone number that connects to multiple lines and allows you to determine where messages and calls go at different times of the day. For instance, you could set it to route any calls after 6 p.m. to the office answering machine. It can also keep all your work-related text messages contained within the Google Voice app so they’re not mixed in with your personal messages. This would require printing up new business cards and informing all your current customers that your number has changed. (Though you’d actually still be using your personal cell number, they don’t need to know that.) A small cost and a little hassle for big relief in the long run.

(Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. This column is syndicated by Creators Syndicate columnists. Visit the website at www.creators.com.)

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