You’ve done it. Your customers hate it. You, actually, hate it when it happens to you with other businesses. It’s a huge problem, and you need to fix it today.

I emailed a law firm last weekend to ask if they could provide me with some help getting a visa (I love to travel, and some countries aren’t easy to get into — I know, I’m shocked too). I had browsed their site, and I couldn’t tell if they had the service I was looking for or not. I intentionally emailed their info@xyzfirm.com address, so I wouldn’t waste an attorney’s valuable time. I wanted a receptionist or assistant to answer my initial question.

Instead of getting back “Hi Toby, unfortunately, no, we do not offer the visa service you’re looking for. However, we can recommend that you inquire at the law firm of Visa Services International, and they’ll be able to help you,” I was answered with an abrupt “No” and the lawyer’s email signature.

How rude!

If you’ve ever done this, you need to fix it. Not only will I not recommend that firm to anyone who needs their services, I will actively be discouraging people from using them.

The solution?

Take the extra 30 seconds to be polite in an email. If you can’t help someone and you don’t have a referral off the top of your head, go find one. Being nice to people is both branding and marketing. I talk about how being nice is the best offline marketing tactic there is in my book here.

The other solution is to not answer these emails yourself. If I’d had to wait a day to get an email from a secretary who was nice, I would be much happier than getting a rude email from a lawyer on the weekend.

Be nice. Make people happy. Build a network of offline marketers who don’t even know they’re advertising for you.

Have a great week.