Today within the space of 5 minutes I helped a couple of different people I didn't know. One of them even called me "a saviour" afterwards! I didn't do anything out of the ordinary, clever or brave. And it wasn't anything we don't all do without a second thought countless times throughout our lives.
I simply gave them directions, helping them in that smallest of everyday ways. And the thing is as we all know that helping other people really does feel great. We're humans after all, we like interacting, connecting, getting a positive reaction and doing good things for and with others. Spending a couple of minutes with someone who's desperately trying to find the location for a job interview they are going to be late for isn't difficult. But I don't think I would have received the same reaction if I had shown disinterest, vaguely pointing into the middle distance and offering a terse "I don't have two minutes for you pal, but I'm sure you'll work it out".
When we help people in small ways by taking an interest, showing them we care, making their life easier, giving them useful information that has some value to them it's the proverbial win/win situation. And those little victories all add up. Conversely if we make things difficult, complicated to do, hard to find and act like we don't really care then don't be surprised by the reaction.
It's the duty of a designer to care about this stuff and make things that are useful and try to improve people's lives in some small way. It's the same when you run a business or look after customers; surely extending that kind of service to those customers across all touchpoints is absolutely essential? It's not enough to be nice in person and on the phone but having an online presence that frustrates, confuses, bores and makes it seem like you don't really care or cannot be bothered.
Customers remember the good stuff as well as the bad. The useful, valuable, helpful experiences strengthens loyalty and trust and encourages customers to say positive things about you to others. So being helpful is easy to do and leaves everyone happy. It's the least we can do really - it may not get them praising you as "a saviour"...but you just never know.