The COVID-19 pandemic has provided countless opportunities to observe just how much public trust and confidence in government institutions matters.  They are the primary currency, in Canada at any rate, that legitimize government actions particularly in times of crisis.  With trust and confidence, governments can work together with the people and communities they serve to enact extraordinary measures during extraordinary times.  

So where does that trust, and confidence come from? In part, from the experiences, people have when accessing government services. Positive or negative, these experiences form peoples’ impressions about the effectiveness of public institutions and the level of confidence they have in them. In a nutshell, service matters.  Not just in the moment of that specific interaction, but over time. Interaction by interaction, service by service the credibility of government institutions is bolstered or eroded.  

The belief that service matters is the north star that’s guided the work of the Joint Councils representing all levels of Canadian Government for more than two decades. Comprised of the Public Sector Service Delivery Council and the Public Sector Chief Information Officer Council, Joint Councils bring together service and technology leaders from federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to collaborate on initiatives to improve public sector service delivery across Canada.

One such initiative has produced the Citizen-Centric Services Maturity Model.  The Model and supporting tools were commissioned by Joint Councils and developed in partnership by Service BC and Service Canada with the support of the Institute for Citizen Centred Service (ICCS) and input from public sector service delivery professionals from across the country. Using the ICCS’s new learning platform, the Maturity Model doesn’t simply tell you what great service looks like, it shows you how to assess the effectiveness of a specific service from the perspective of the citizens using it, as well as how to go about improving it.

Guidance on using the model is broken down into three steps: building a picture of the people who use a specific service to understand how they experience it; mapping the effectiveness of that service by assessing it against attributes like accessibility, efficiency, and responsiveness; identifying where tangible improvements could be made and determining if it changes to skills, policies or technology that are required to unlock those opportunities.

If service matters because trust and confidence in government institutions matters, then improving services for citizens should be a preoccupation of every public sector service delivery organization across the country. While this is the kind of work that can require expertise and resources not all organizations have the luxury of retaining, the Citizen-Centric Services Maturity Model can be accessed for free through the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service.