Handling customer complaints can be a tough job, but one that plays a crucial role in your company's overall marketing success. So how do you get employees to go the extra mile for complaining customers? One way is to base a part of their compensation on customer evaluations of their performance.

Renex Corp., a manufacturer of computer peripherals in Woodbridge, Va., does just that with the 12 employees in its customer communications center. The marketing administrator contacts each customer who has called in with a problem and asks him or her a series of questions about the performance of the company and its customer service representatives. The administrator uses the answers to calculate a score for the employees who handled the problem. Each person's scores are then averaged quarterly, producing a rating that is used to determine the employer's quarterly bonus. That bonus may amount to as much as 25% of the employee's overall compensation.

Under the system, Renex's typical service rep winds up making about 10% more than the industry average. "It gives our technical support staff the drive to keep doing their best for customers," says Shane Clawson, director of sales and marketing.