The insurance industry stresses the importance of customer satisfaction, but a focus on its workforce and internal communication are equally important to provide top-quality products and services. BOC Group Life Assurance (BOCG Life) won the silver award in the 2010 HKMA Quality Award thanks to its excellent performance in all seven award-criteria. 'We believe our competitive edge lies in customer service,' says Charity Au, chief operating officer at BOCG Life. 'Our standards of service are the key differentiator that sets us apart from our competitors.' Having to deal with customers during difficult or stressful periods in their lives, the company places a lot of emphasis on identifying customer needs through extensive collection of customer feedback, developing necessary products and ensuring their service standards are the best in the industry. 'True quality management is not the result of a single action - it is an ongoing strategic effort,' Au says. 'Our results prove our strategies are moving in the right direction and are sustainable.' To ensure that the company provides excellent service, BOCG Life creates a welcoming environment for newcomers and takes care of the needs of all staff, while creating a culture of belonging, shared goals and mutual support. 'BOCG Life is a people-oriented company,' Au says. 'We are truly committed to investing in staff development and identifying and rewarding colleagues at all levels who excel at their jobs.' When preparing for the assessment process of the award, BOCG Life formed a working committee composed of members from various departments. The committee was responsible for completing all preparation work, collecting data and meeting with the examiners and judges. BOCG Life felt it was crucial to provide a comprehensive picture of the company. Therefore, materials from all departments were consolidated to reflect their competitive advantages, unique position in the industry and management leadership. 'We are proud of our efforts to achieve the same goal despite the demanding judging criteria,' Au says. Moreover, each judging criterion was taken care of by a department head who then engaged and mobilised team members, and set up clear roles and deliverables. The award also fulfilled one of BOCG Life's main aims - to strengthen internal communication of participating departments. Members of the different departments held regular meetings and discussions during the assessment process. 'This solidified our vision, mission and values, and deepened our culture,' Au says. 'This is good training for colleagues to develop their analytical and organisation skills through compiling and handling a large amount of information within a tight deadline. On giving tips to other organisations interested in participating, Au says the most important thing is to take action without hesitation to showcase the organisation's competitive edge and leading position during the competition. The award helps to strengthen co-operation in an organisation, be it co-operation within a department or between various departments. While working on how to present the full picture of the company to the judges, organisations can further identify their comparative advantages and areas in need of improvement. 'We are grateful for the opportunity to share our views with the judges,' Au says. 'We have received valuable feedback and many useful comments that will help us on our journey ahead for the company's quality management development.'