The terms “service desk” and “help desk” are often interchanged, but actually refer to two different things. A service desk involves an organization’s overall information technology (IT) support capabilities that streamline business processes, with the end goal of providing better services to customers. Meanwhile, a help desk, considered a subset of a service desk, has a smaller scope and covers the reactive handling of end customers’ issues and queries.
In this article, learn the differences between a service desk vs a help desk as we break down the two terms, explain their usage, and share examples of the best providers for each.
Help Desk vs Service Desk: Which One Do You Need?
In a nutshell, service desks are business-centric, while help desks are user-centric. To understand whether your business will benefit from using a more comprehensive tool, such as a service desk, or you simply need a help desk, read our detailed description of each below.
Note: Choosing between a service and a help desk is not an either/or situation. Service desks are made for larger organizations with advanced IT service management needs. Meanwhile, help desks, which fall under service desks, are for teams who need to manage the number of customer queries they receive in an organized and streamlined manner.
Below is a table that shows a quick comparison between a help desk vs a service desk:
A help desk functions as the receiver of customer queries, issues, and other requests. It acts as a central hub where your customers can talk to your customer support staff. While it can be physical, most help desks are virtual in the form of customer service software that offers tools for live chats, hotlines, or emails. It is designed to make customer support easier through features like ticket management, communications, and automation.
A help desk is a subset of a service desk as it is one of the various functions that a service desk covers, and is usually integrated into the wider IT system of a company. It has a more straightforward purpose: to be the front line of customer support.
Below are few areas that a help desk covers:
Who Benefits From Using a Help Desk
A help desk or customer service software’s main purpose is to equip users with the necessary tools to coordinate with their customers and help them answer questions, address concerns, and resolve issues. Below are members of your team who will benefit the most from using one:
- Small business owners who wear multiple hats: Users running small businesses who need to keep track of customer queries and requests in a centralized system benefit from using a help desk. This helps ensure no customer query goes unanswered or issue unresolved.
- Customer service representatives: Agents tasked with taking and managing customer service calls and queries who need to record and track cases benefit from using help desk software.
Do you need a help desk or customer service software, but don’t know where to start? Check out our article on the best free customer service software to see which one fits your business needs.
A service desk is a system that covers various aspects of an organization’s IT service management (ITSM). It is more focused on handling the operational needs of an organization, as well as addressing the needs of its employees. It is an integrated system covering multiple functions, including incident management, service level agreement (SLA) management, knowledge management, change management, and asset management.
Unlike a help desk, a service desk is made to support your employees by using a centralized system to manage their IT-related issues and queries. It is business-centric as its main function is to streamline all your internal processes, so you can provide better services to your customers. It ensures that various aspects of your business work together to prevent internal hiccups that affect how you conduct business or provide service to your customers.
Below are some business areas that a service desk covers:
Who Benefits From Using a Service Desk
A service desk’s main purpose is to streamline various aspects of your IT support capabilities. Below are members of your organization who will benefit the most from using one:
- IT specialists and managers: IT professionals in an organization who need to keep track of tech-related cases and incidents, as well as monitor usage of assets and provide technical assistance to employees, will find a service desk helpful.
- Chief technology officer (CTO): CTOs who are required to oversee their organization’s entire IT processes and systems greatly benefit from a service desk as it centralizes systems management. The amount of IT-related incidents reported in a service desk also gives CTOs visibility on potential areas of the business that need improvement.
Top Help Desk Software Providers
The best help desk software helps users manage all their incoming customer queries and concerns—without any case falling through the cracks. It must have omnichannel communication tools so customers can easily reach your business using the channel most convenient for them. Check out some of the top help desk providers below to learn which one suits your business needs:
Zoho Desk is help desk software that lets users manage customer conversations across multiple channels, including email, live chat, chatbots, phone, and social media. It automates repetitive manual actions, such as routing tickets and auto-tagging them to agents based on the topic. It allows users to create smart assignment rules that route high-priority tickets to available agents to help resolve issues faster.
LiveChat is help desk software focused on providing users with live chat and botchat tools. It lets users resolve issues faster by communicating with customers in real-time through various functionalities like website live chat boxes, canned responses, chat transfers, and chat ratings.
HubSpot Service Hub
HubSpot Service Hub provides users with essential help desk tools, such as ticketing, live chat, shared inboxes, team email, and ticket reports. It offers tools for help desk automation, a knowledge base, and customer feedback surveys for seamless customer support. It also has voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) functionality that provides excellent call quality, which customers can access directly from the app.
Top Service Desk Software Providers
A good service desk software provides users with extensive tools to manage the various aspects of their IT needs, as well as streamline internal tech processes. Check out some of the most popular service desk providers below to discover which one caters to your needs best:
Freshservice provides a unified service management solution to help organizations streamline their IT support, customize workflows, and set up automations. It offers tools for an IT service desk, IT service management, and IT project management. Its dashboard shows the various status of IT activities within an organization, particularly active tickets and incidents. Freshservice also has the capability of sending internal announcements to the organization.
Zendesk’s service desk solution provides multi-channel ticketing and employee self-service portals in a unified platform. It offers tools for asset management, ticketing, agent collaboration, and workflow customization. Its functionalities help your team manage incidents, events, problems, and service requests easily. It also allows IT managers to keep track of company-provided phones and computers by registering the assets to the system.
Jira Service Management
Jira Service Management lets IT, operations, and business teams collaborate easily with one another through a centralized platform that streamlines all of their organization’s internal processes. The system provides users with tools for request, incident, problem, change, and configuration management.
Help desks vs service desks are different from one another, although a help desk technically falls under the scope of a service desk. For larger organizations that want to monitor diverse IT-related functions, including asset management, incidents, and various software subscriptions, a service desk is ideal. Meanwhile, for businesses that primarily focus on streamlining their service and communications with end customers, a help desk alone will often suffice.