For leaders, the biggest challenge to improving public sector service delivery is not just identifying citizens’ voices and needs. Rather, it is embedding a citizen-centred service culture throughout an organization that is receptive to those needs.
Through the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service’s (ICCS) Certified Service Manager (CSM) program, many organizations are turning to certification and learning as a way to enable and support culture change and to enhance service excellence.
The CSM program is designed for public sector service managers and supervisors who are responsible for managing direct service delivery. It can help bring service transformations to life by assisting organizations to make transformations sustainable and develop capacity to meet future needs.
“Service is a profession. In government however, it is not. It is an administrative function. We need to go beyond this,” argues Richard Rochefort, a former director general from the Service Canada College and currently a vice president at the Canada School of Public Service.
The CSM program offers a consistent, professional standard for citizen-centred service delivery and has been developed with input from senior leaders across all orders of government. It is the first program in the world that professionalizes public sector service management.
Innovation and empirical research
Four years in the making, the CSM program was built by the public sector for the public sector. Over that time, the Canadian public sector service delivery community came together to develop a certification and learning program that draws on the experiences of service delivery innovators and champions.
These rich organizational experiences have been combined with a decade of empirical research such as the ICCS’s Citizens First and Taking Care of Business studies. This has resulted in a collective body of knowledge about citizen-centred service delivery, specifically on how to build and sustain a service-focused culture.
The CSM Program is founded on the elements within this collective body of knowledge known as the Certified Service Manager Body of Knowledge (CSMBoK). The CSM Program and the CSMBoK delve into topics such as service improvement, service access, service standards, service management and emerging trends in service delivery.
“If you believe service is a profession, then you realize you need a body of knowledge. You need to learn from others and sometimes change the way things are done,” says Rochefort.
Enabling a service culture
According to David Szwarc, chief administrative officer at the Region of Peel, “learning, both on an organizational level and on an individual level, helped us understand what customers want and how best to deliver it. It is not about getting clients to fit our expectations, but the opposite. It is about promoting skills and attitudes that help our services fit their expectations.”
Building a citizen-centred service culture requires that staff knowledge, skills and attitudes place the needs and expectations of citizens at the heart of all aspects of service. This is a key component of service transformation. Canadian federal, provincial and territorial deputy ministers responsible for service delivery have identified that growing staff knowledge and enhancing capabilities require learning that is focused on citizen-centred service delivery. They also recognized that certification offers recognition of the service profession and helps build commitment to service excellence.
Deputy ministers and senior level managers in charge of service renewal and transformation across all orders of government have been supportive and instrumental to these efforts. This includes Service Canada, ServiceOntario, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and ServiceBC.
Drawing on the CSMBoK, the ICSS recently launched its first professional certification program, the Certified Service Manager (CSM Basic). Designed with flexibility in mind, organizations and individual public servants can develop a customized learning program based on their needs and existing skill and knowledge levels. The CSM Basic curriculum contains a series of seven courses that organizations may choose to have delivered or license.
“I am so excited about the work the ICCS has done. Here is your ticket to make a positive impact,” says Rochefort.
Cody Dodd is a research analyst with the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service. To learn more about the Certified Service Manager Program and its course offerings, visit www.iccs-isac.org/en/certification/aboutprog.htm.