There's no one better than the customer to help you recognize your company's top performers. In the process, you can get important information to help motivate employees and to maintain a satisfied clientele. Here's what some corporations are doing:

* In the Most Valuable Player program at St. Louis' Busch Stadium, 10 randomly selected fans are given two small cards to bestow on any two employees who show them courtesy. If a particular division of workers receives at least 15 cards during the game, there is a drawing is held and the winner gets a $100 bill. All employees who receive cards are mentioned in a monthly flier published by the St. Louis Civic Center Corp. for its employees.

* At Park Lane Hotels International, based in San Francisco, guests are asked to nominate hotel workers who provide outstanding service. The company rewards all nominees with Sony Watchman televisions and holds a grand-prize drawing for a 20-inch TV--and the guest who nominated the grand-prize winner receives two free nights at the hotel.

* Continental Airlines mails Pride in Performance certificates to its top 50,000 frequent fliers for distribution to particularly helpful employees. These employees can redeem the certificates for dinners, luggage, hotel stays, flight passes, and other merchandise. American Airlines has a similar program.

* Microage Computer, based in Tempe, Ariz., has an Unsung Heroes award. The company asks customers to nominate employees who have been especially helpful; the customers are then invited to a special award ceremony for the winners.

GTE's Innovative Program A more elaborate customer-initiated recognition program is found at GTE Telephone Operations in Dallas. The President's Quality Awards program encompasses awards in four categories: area and region, individual employees, teams, and vendors. Award recipients are selected by annual customer surveys.

Eighty employees are recognized at three levels of achievement (the top 10 receive $2,500, a personalized award, and a letter of commendation) and one individual who has demonstrated exemplary commitment to quality receives the President's Distinctive Commendation. He or she receives a monetary award, a medallion, and a letter of commendation from the president. In addition, seven team awards are given in three categories. Members of each winning team receive a cash gift, a personalized award, and a letter of commendation from the president. GTE also solicits customers to nominate their most helpful suppliers, who are recognized in the company's Partners in Quality Program.

All award winners and their guests are flown to Dallas for a lavish celebration. On the first evening, they are feted by senior executives at a grand reception and dinner. The following afternoon, nominees, their guests, and select employees host an Academy Awards-type ceremony at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center downtown. After the ceremony there is a fabulous theme party honoring the winners.

1. Ask customers for feedback about the products and services they receive and for suggestions on how each can be improved. Make it easy to volunteer information anonymously.

2. Ask customers for the names of helpful employees and act on the information you receive.

3. Provide customers with coupons, passes, or surprise gifts they can give to your employees for jobs well done.