Guest Post by: Jon Stokes

Earlier this year I wrote about how Chiltern Railways were using twitter for customer service.

Aside from their responsive Twitter account, I was also impressed by the company’s use of foursquare to reward the “mayor” of Marylebone station with the privilege of switching on the Christmas lights –  an innovative way to recognise a loyal customer.

Last year the mayor of the station was approached unexpectedly and asked to turn on the lights, but this year Chiltern Railways adjusted the format, turning it into a competition. So with Christmas approaching, I set myself the target of being the mayor of Marylebone station this year.

As there were more people aware of this special reward this year, the company elected to create a new location on foursquare (in this case, the location was for the tree itself) and promoted the event with signage in the station and on Twitter. This gave a fresh start and level playing field to all customers.

As it turns out, I was successful in my campaign to secure the mayorship, and so on Monday evening I had the rather surreal experience of being introduced by Chad Collins, General Manager South of Chiltern Railways, as the person counting down and switching on the lights at Marylebone.

The whole event was both weird and wonderful, but has definitely left me feeling like a mobilised advocate for Chiltern Railways. I was touched by the effort and arrangements, the official photographer, the PA system (that rivaled the station’s tannoy) and the special signage and music – it was all pretty serious, even if for a minor internet celebrity (at best!).

I’m certainly looking forward to next year, and hope to see other companies using social media to offer this sort of special one-off reward. As well as being fun, I expect that Chiltern Railways may also be able to discover new advocates by identifying those who were really driven to check in multiple times for the mayorship.

Incidentally I came across this fantastic foursquare perk, with an American mall reserving a parking space for the mayor – what a clever idea!

Original Post: http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2011/12/social-media-perks-chilternrailway-rewarding-regular-customers/