What Jimmy Kimmel taught us about customer experience

It’s not about the free hot dogs, it’s about thanking our customers.

I like movies.  I like the escapism, the creative ideas, and, frankly, the night out.  That is why I ended up watching the Academy Awards ceremony on TV last week.  However, I am not writing this blog because of my passion for movies.  I am writing it because of my passion for customer experience.

When you are as immersed as I am in the pursuit of great customer experiences you tend to find examples of good and bad CX everywhere you turn.  After all, I am not only a CX professional, I am also a customer.  It is amazing how many situations I can relate to customer experience.

That is why when Jimmy Kimmel asked the star-studded audience at the Oscars to thank the movie-going public, I took notice. The importance of thanking customers is well understood by the CX-minded.

Kimmel’s ask

Jimmy said, “You know, a lot of people have been thanked tonight. Producers, directors, Mexico got a thanks. And deservedly so. Many of you would not be here without the people you’re thanking.”

He continued, “But there’s another group that deserves our thanks even more, because without them, none of us would be here, so I want to take a moment to thank the people who actually go to see the movies you make. Tonight, we thank the movie-going public.”

With that, he asked for volunteers to join him in leaving the Dolby Theatre and going across the street to the TCL Chinese Theatre to surprise movie-goers who thought they had been invited solely to watch the screening of a new Disney film.

The stunned movie-goers were on their feet as Kimmel and celebrities including Mark Hamill, Lupita Nyong’o, Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Margot Robbie entered the theater. The stars passed out candy and shot hot dogs into the audience from a hot dog-shaped launcher with this warning from Kimmel – “Do not aim the hot dogs at the vegetarians.”

Kimmel said to the crowd, “We were talking about our appreciation for people who go to the movies and those are you people, so we wanted to say thank you to the moviegoers.”

The Oscar audience then appeared on the TCL Chinese Theatre screen and gave a big “thank you” to the hundreds of fans across the street and at the same time to the millions of fans in the television audience.  You can watch it all unfold here.

The importance of thanking customers

Clearly, Jimmy believes in the importance of thanking customers. At last year’s Oscars he brought a bus-full of wide-eyed tourists into Dolby Theater for what they though was a costume exhibit and what turned out to be the Academy Awards ceremony.

As a customer myself, I appreciate being thanked for my purchase, even if only in a blurb at the bottom of a cash register receipt.  It is evidence that we are in agreement about the importance of the customer.  Customers have choices and they vote with their business. Take them for granted at your peril.

Jimmy’s grand gesture was suitable for an internationally televised event.  Despite its largesse, it can still serve as inspiration for any entity hoping to build a loyal following.

Thanking customers does not always have to occur on such a grand scale, but it does need to happen.  It can be through planned and orchestrated acts, through direct, sincere “thank yous,” or through subtle and not-so-subtle actions by employees empowered to show customers they care.

How are you thanking your customers?


Dayton is general manager Global Customer Success at CA Technologies. His team is dedicated to…


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