If you have a side business, you need to offer customer service, but it’s also perfectly reasonable to not want your phone to ring at 3 a.m. You can fix that if you set up office hours in Google Voice.
Fortunately it’s easy to set up Google Voice to allow your phone to ring during office hours and go straight to voice mail after hours. And the nice thing is, Google Voice transcribes your messages. This makes it very easy to filter out people who are calling you trying to solicit your services at 25 cents on the dollar. I can’t say for certain that people are more likely to do that at off hours. But it’s certainly more annoying to get awakened at 3 a.m. by someone wanting to lowball you. And yes, I speak from experience.
Here’s how you do it if you don’t want to be disturbed at unreasonable hours.
First, sign up for Google Voice at https://www.google.com/voice. You’ll need a U.S. phone number and Internet access so Google can call you with a security code that you enter on a web page. When you select to let Google Voice ring one or more other numbers, you can set up a ring schedule using a six-step process.
Click the gear and click Settings.
Select the Phones tab.
Click the Edit button under the phone for which you want to set a ring schedule.
Click the Show advanced settings link.
In the Ring Schedule section, select Use custom schedule and enter your time range. You can set schedules for both weekdays and weekends.
Click Save at the bottom of the page.
While you’re there, click the Calls tab, as there are two options you’ll want to set there. Turn Call Screening on and check the box labeled Ask unknown callers to say their name. Also enable Global Spam Filtering. Both will cut down on robocalls and telemarketers.
You may also want to click Groups and Circles and add existing customers to your contacts list. This lets existing customers contact you more easily than prospects. This also lets you fine-tune your rules. Some customers are apt to only call you about emergencies after hours and some will call about mundane things after hours. This helps you deal with that.
There are several advantages to using Google Voice for this kind of service. First, since it can forward to a cell phone, you don’t have to actually be in the office to get calls. Your cell phone can ring anywhere. Second, you avoid giving your actual phone number to the public. Third, Google Voice offers more screening options than Verizon or AT&T does, so this gives you better protection against unwanted or harassing calls than the phone company would.