• November 4, 2020
  • by Varun Sharma

IT Help Desk vs IT Service Desk: What’s the difference?

IT Help Desk vs IT Service Desk – Featured Image

Why You Need to Know the Difference, and How to Choose the Best Option for Your Business

An IT help desk and service desk are not mutually exclusive entities, they are part of a continuum of user service, and one encompasses the other. Choosing the right option will impact employee productivity, scalability, and business continuity.

What is an IT Help Desk?

The help desk was born from the need to support technology hardware and software when it stopped working. It serves as the single point of contact for break-fix requests and also offers tactical incident management support.

Over time the help desk expanded into a more robust support system serving more sophisticated IT needs, paving the way for the development of the IT service desk.

What is a Service Desk?

The service desk is the natural evolution of the help desk. It offers exceptional customer service, whether the customer has a hardware issue or needs help to onboard a new employee. It is a service-centric and strategic support system that offers the following:

  • Knowledge management: the process of collecting, interpreting, storing, and distributing knowledge across an organization, in the correct format, to the right people and at the right time, according to the organization’s best practices. Knowledge management is a crucial aspect of business continuity.
  • Incident management: this is your traditional break-fix style help desk component.
  • Problem management: recognizing patterns in customer support calls and implementing methods to avoid problems in the future. This often requires more sophisticated analytics software that is not traditionally part of a help desk toolkit.
  • Change management: mitigating disruption and risk while implementing changes to essential systems and services.
  • Service request management: when a customer requests something new, such as:
    • Password resets
    • New/replacement hardware
    • Software licensing
    • Application access

Problem management and change management improve employee productivity by preventing issues before they arise and minimizing disruption wherever possible. Service request management improves scalability, allowing a seamless and rapid response as you bring on new employees or expand locations.

The service desk is an integral part of an IT company’s service model or IT service management (ITSM) framework. It is the IT operation’s central nervous system, collecting inputs and determining the best course of action to maintain a streamlined and exceptional support experience. For example, if a customer calls in with a hardware issue and the service desk technician determines they need a new computer, they escalate the request to another team in the organization that can handle the IT asset management process.

Communication with the service desk is not one-way; their success relies on the usability and capacity as determined by the users. A strong service desk strategy will include continuous improvement mechanisms that invite user feedback, along with metrics to track against and to measure service outcomes.

Maturing from a help desk to a service desk takes time, extra resources, and expertise. If your organization recognizes a need to make the switch from a help desk to a service desk, check out our article on service desk strategies to get started.

 Which Option is Right for You?

Choosing between an IT help desk and an IT service desk might seem like a daunting task, but here are a few questions to consider:

  • What are the support needs of your employees?
  • Do you use complicated software that changes often?
  • Are you scaling quickly and require frequent onboarding/offboarding?
  • Have you evaluated the different pricing models available from Service Desk providers?
  • Would you benefit from implementing support that can improve productivity?
  • Do you see your IT provider as a strategic partner who can move your business forward or a service provider who fixes problems as they arise?

IT departments and teams come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. If your requirements focus solely on break-fix activities and incident management, then a help desk is probably adequate. If you need support that is strategic, streamlined and focused on customer service, a service desk is the better option. Regardless of the option you choose, finding the right IT managed services provider is the key to harnessing the power of technology to drive your business forward.

Are you in the process of evaluating your current service desk solution? Read our post with 20 questions to help with your assessment.

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Varun Sharma

Varun Sharma

As one of WBM’s Subject Matter Experts in Service Desk delivery and execution, Varun Sharma has over a decade of experience in delivering exceptional results-driven customer satisfaction. Varun thrives in the analysis of numbers, data, and information. However, he is best known for his passion about continuous improvement, his determination in finding efficiencies to help make his teams successful, and his dedication to his team, partners, and co-workers.

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