Service Desk vs Help Desk: What’s The Difference?


Fretty Francis

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: May 2, 2021

“What’s the difference between Help Desk and Service Desk? The job is one and the same, isn’t it?” you might wonder.

“My HelpDesk Software has a ticketing solution for our clients; is it different from a service desk?”

Looking for Helpdesk Software? Check out SoftwareSuggest’s list of the best Helpdesk Software solutions.

“A desk would be a desk, be it a help desk or an IT service desk. Why bother?”

Amateur business organizations might think this way. Well, the truth is; it is really not as simple as that. At least not for your customers. As for the difference, YES! There is a difference between offering a help desk and a service desk management software to your customers. This would matter to you as well when you grow large and beyond plain IT support and service management.

Don’t fret, you need not change the way you provide IT support after knowing this. Simply, it will add to your knowledge of efficiently handling customer queries and even ticket management, the crucial pillars of IT support division of any organization.

Looking for a Helpdesk support solution? Check out the List of Best Help Desk Software

Why should you care about the difference?

Service Desk vs Help Desk: Fairly, the answer depends on what kind of products you sell, the extent of support you provide for them, who are your customers. But more importantly, how do you want your troubleshooting services to be perceived by your clients. As a 21st century IT service provider, customer support has become more inclusive and extensive. Many tend to consider Help Desk as an old-school term these days, while Service Desk is treated as a modern version of a support portal. However, it is important for you to be aware of the details as to what sets them apart and use the appropriate term for your support desk.

Help Desk: Instantly fix technical issues for the user

  • Basically, the job of a help desk analyst or a front line support agent is to efficiently communicate with the customers who reach out to them for instant help, troubleshoot their issues or take it further if need be.
  • A quick shot at IT support where they have to bring the customer back to the operations without spending much of time.
  • They generally use various Live chat software or CRM software to streamline the support operations. Comprehensive Help Desk software has grown popular amongst IT support providers as an incident tracking solution that offers the complete set of features needed to provide constant quality level 1 (can be level 2 too sometimes) IT support.
  • At help desks, a single support agent coordinates with the integration manager, network engineer, server support, quality tester and everything in between until the issue is resolved.
  • In order to be effectively swift, Help Desks store the reported problems and their solutions to maintain a centralized knowledgebase, along with answers to many Commonly Asked questions by users.
  • All in all, a help desk can be viewed as a subset of a full-fledged IT Service Desk.

Also Read: 10 Best Help Desk Software

Service Desk: Bigger than a Help Desk, manages IT as a service

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) sets de facto detailed practices for IT service management that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of the business. According to ITIL terminology, a Service Desk is the single point of contact between the service provider and the users. A typical service desk manages incidents and service requests and also handles communication with the users.

In a nutshell, service desks are not just there to help users, but rather provide well-ordered customer service.

The way IT service management evolved after the 80s, it demanded more than just a quick-fix for customer issues. This led to a more systematic approach to managing IT as a service; thus, stepping up mainframe computing.

What all is included in features of a Service desk, you must be wondering. Here are some of the many features a modern IT service desk must provide:

  • Set of Help Desk features
  • The old-school ticketing service
  • New service requests
  • Various self-service portals for users
  • Information requests
  • Incident management
  • Problem management
  • Email notifications
  • Managing configuration and release
  • IT change management
  • Integration services
  • Recording Knowledgebase and FAQ

While a help desk can be an add-on to the IT services of an organization, a Service Desk is considered to be an integral part of an IT-enabled service providing companies specifically whose frameworks are developed around ‘service lifecycle’.

Modern organizations nowadays prefer to deploy dedicated teams that specialize in a particular problem or service. Customers according to their concern-type are routed to corresponding teams that lead to an efficient solution. Thus, a Service Desk is able to deal not only with clients but also parties affiliated with the organization.

Moreover, this helps the staff to keep up with adherence to and compliance with various Service Level Agreements done with clients and business partners too.

Interestingly, service desk functions would envelop all features of individually used solutions like customer support software, help desk software, live chat software, online CRM software and such likes.

What’s in a name? What customer thinks of your ‘Desks’?

While the IT industry-men are abuzz with what to call their desk, have you considered what your customers think of it? Here is their opinion.

In 2015 HDI did a survey, where they asked IT services users what does a support centre mean to them. Here is a result of the survey.


(Survey by HDI)

The results do shed a light on how customers think when it comes to visiting the IT support of their service provider. However, there are no hard and fast regulations or principals upon how a term should be used. Customers can always be trained to identify your services and processes; the important aspect is to create a distinction amongst your team within the organization.

Bringing it all together

Now that you understand the impact of a HelpDesk and a Service Desk on a business, we believe it will be convenient for you to name your own IT support desk for your customers. Today, the fact is help desk is considered to be out of fashion and service desk is what all-inclusive IT support is expected to look like. However, the focus should unwaveringly remain on the quality of the support you provide to your customers. Although it is evident that both the terms have been used interchangeably since so long, knowing the difference enables you to use the right one.

Fretty Francis is a digital marketing and content strategist at SoftwareSuggest, a software recommendation platform. She's passionate about analytics, conversion rate optimization and ice-cream.

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