Service Standards

… a core term in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100


The Government of Canada Guideline on Service Standards (reference below) defines a service standard as a public commitment to a measurable level of performance that clients can expect under normal circumstances.

The Guideline elaborates:

“When developing service standards, the organization should consider its resources and expected level of demand for regular day-to-day service operations (normal circumstances). Special circumstances where regular service standards may not apply include holidays, the end of April for tax filing, natural disasters, or emergencies. These are circumstances that are typically not within the organization’s control.

“Service standards are integral to good client service and to effectively managing performance. They help clarify expectations for clients and employees, drive service improvement, and contribute to results-based management. Service standards reinforce government accountability by making performance transparent, and increase the confidence of Canadians in government by demonstrating the government’s commitment to service excellence.

“Service standards serve two key purposes:

  • To provide staff with performance targets (“Phone must be answered within three rings”); and
  • To inform clients what to expect (“Waiting time is less than 10 minutes”).”
Resources on service standards and service delivery

The Institute of Customer Service (UK) at

Institute for Citizen-Centred Service (Canada) at

Topic, subject and Atlas course

Modernizing Government in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100.


Government of Canada (2012), Guideline on Service Standards, at, accessed 21 November 2016.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 21 November 2016.