It’s not hard if you set the expectations.
Often discussions on Active Rain touch on the problem of clients being upset when they can’t reach their real estate agent, clients calling in the middle of the night, etc.
My thought was “Why not make it both easy and clear for both of you?”
Why not send each of your clients an email and ask them to keep it handy for easy contact information. (If your clients don’t use email, give them the same information in a hard copy.)
In that email give them instructions on how to reach you by phone, cell phone, text messaging, and email. Give them a link to their listing on your site, too.
Then tell them your policy and your business hours.
Let them know that you turn your phone off during the dinner hour or after a certain time of night. And don’t give excuses or reasons – just state your business hours. (Do you know of any other business that has to make excuses why they close the doors and go home at night?)
Tell them that you don’t answer calls while you’re with a client or on another call, but will return their call within X amount of time. (Of course, then you do have to do it.)
If you set your own appointments and have left them a message, ask listing clients to leave a message verifying appointment times – so you don’t have to call back.
Then, if there is such a person, give them an alternate person to call if they need immediate help.
It seems to me that many communication difficulties could be avoided if your clients knew exactly what to expect – and what NOT to expect.