A commitment to improve service through productivity enabled the Hong Kong and China Gas Company to scoop the award in the Productivity category last year. James Kwan, director and general manager, marketing and customer service, said winning the award had helped the company better understand the areas where good service was provided and review areas where improvements could be made. Mr Kwan said some people might have been surprised by the fact a utility company had won the main award in the Productivity category. However, this reinforced the company's belief that such firms could provide outstanding services and that improving the quality of service was a continuous journey. 'Taking part in the awards was a good exercise and provided an ideal opportunity to access our performance against other entries,' he said. 'The criteria of the competition prepared by the Hong Kong Productivity Council works like a thorough medical check and examines all areas of a company's strategy to improve productivity through services.' Mr Kwan said the key to provide a cost-effective quality service was having a complete system that covered all aspects of the operation and had a well-planned strategy to realise the company's aims and objectives. 'We were delighted to win the award last year because it boosted staff morale and recognised our company's mission to provide good service through increasing productivity while keeping costs under control,' he said. A scheme to train staff to be multi-skilled meant the company was more competitive and helped maintain a quality service at a reasonable cost. Mr Kwan said training staff to be multi-skilled also meant employees could be re-trained and absorbed into new roles rather than face the prospect of being laid off. 'Our focus is firmly on the customer and the most effective way we can meet our customers' needs in a safe, reliable and competent way,' he said.