by By Lisa Grimaldi | November 01, 2009

The Incentive Market­ing Association has named the winners of its 2009 Circle of Excellence Awards, which honor outstanding incentive programs.

Volkswagen of America and its incentive firm, Touch­stone Group Associates, based in Cincinnati, were lauded for a dealer program aimed at improving customer satisfaction to bolster the carmakers' J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study rankings. The IQS 2008 Challenge boosted VW's survey score by 32 points, the largest such improvement in the brand's history.

Scottrade, the St. Louis-based online investment firm, and Anderson Performance Improvement Co., based in Hastings, Minn., were cited for their development and launch of an employee communication and recognition process. The results: a 95 percent participation level, increased employee retention, and recognition as one of the 100 Best Places to Work in both Fortune and Computerworld in 2009.

IBM and its incentive marketing partners Cievents of North Sydney, Australia, and Merscient, based in Toronto, were singled out for the training program Know Your IBM, which they created for the computer giant's worldwide sales and distribution force. To sweeten the pot, the program provided travel and merchandise rewards. As a result, training participation rose 143 percent in 2008 over the previous year, and sales increased 39 percent.