Help Desk vs Service Desk: Uncovering the Best IT Support Solution

When running a business with heavy IT involvement, it’s important that you have some sort of support system in place to help your customers and employees manage issues that emerge.

This support center can go by any number of names, but the helpdesk and service desk are two of the most common. Is there any difference between the two? Let’s explore different IT support solutions for the answer.

Difference Between Helpdesk, Service Desk and ITSM

The helpdesk and service desk both play roles in IT support, but they have different focuses and origins.

  1. A help desk is often an added feature to an existing IT setup. It primarily addresses immediate technical problems and user issues, working in a more reactive manner. This means it often responds to issues as they arise, without a broader strategic plan.
  2. On the other hand, a service desk is a core component of a comprehensive IT service management (ITSM) system. It’s designed with a focus on the entire lifecycle of IT services. This makes it more proactive and strategic, looking at long-term solutions and overall service quality rather than just solving immediate problems.
  3. While both can handle similar tasks, the service desk usually has a wider scope. It not only addresses immediate issues but also works on improving overall IT services and processes.

According to HDI research in which respondents were asked to select the term they use to describe/label their support center, here were the answers:

  • Service desk (36 percent)
  • Help desk (23 percent)
  • Technical support (9 percent)
  • IT/IS support (9 percent)
  • Support center (7 percent)
  • Customer support center (5 percent)
  • Customer service center (5 percent)
  • Call center (3 percent)
  • Contact center (3 percent)

In other words, while 59 percent of respondents use one of the two terms highlighted in this article, 41 percent use a totally different term. This indicates that there’s no real concrete, agreed-upon definition in place. Instead, each organization seems to choose its own terminology. This means it’s less about the term and more about the support that’s provided.

Now, let’s dive into the definitions of each IT solution for a better understanding of the help desk, service desk tools, and ITSM.

difference between service desk and help desk

What is a Help Desk?

A help desk can be defined as a group of individuals who provide help, support, and other information to users who are experiencing problems, errors, or other issues. That might sound fairly synonymous with what a service desk offers, but there are some slight nuances. Here’s what you need about help desk software to know:

  • A help desk is built around providing help. A service desk provides service. In other words, a help desk is solutions-oriented. The aim is to fix the problem – nothing more and certainly nothing less. A service desk, on the other hand, is also focused on delivering service to an end user. There’s a softer and more nuanced approach.
  • A help desk is usually focused on incident management, whereas a service desk also deals with service requests (i.e. requests for new service), customer questions (i.e. how do I do X, Y, and Z?), and emotional support related to these issues. The help desk’s only goal is to address the issue at hand.

In one sense, you can consider a help desk a subset of the service desk. The service desk provides a broad level of support to customers and users, whereas the help desk is dedicated to fixing problems and implementing solutions as they relate to very specific issues.

Today, service desks and help desks are increasingly using natural language processing and conversational AI to improve their efficiency. The use of chatbots for IT helpdesk and we can find many use cases of Generative AI in IT support.

Definition of Service Desk

A service desk can be described as the single point of contact that handles communication or interaction between the service provider and the users. Service desks manage incidents and other service delivery requests to support business goals. It’s also designed to handle communication with users.

In other words, a service desk software is a communications hub where customers can find support from specific IT service providers. This support may include service request fulfillment, incident resolution, or some other form of problem management. But no matter how the support is provided, the service level agreements’ primary goal is to deliver fast, efficient, and reliable service to customers so issues can be resolved as quickly as possible.

Service desks focus on a variety of ITSM activities, including incident management, self-service, reporting, knowledge management, asset management, support capability, and service request management. These are robust, service-oriented departments that are built around connecting IT teams to customers to provide timely help.

Helpdesk vs Service Desk: Which One do You May Need?

User-Centric & Business-Centric

When evaluating the fundamental differences and the respective service desk capabilities and help desk platforms, it’s important to understand their unique focal points. Specifically, the Help Desk is designed with a user-centric orientation, acting as a digital troubleshooter.

This IT support entity, showcasing the capabilities of service desks, is ready to jump into action when an end user encounters technical hitches. Be it a malfunctioning application, an unresponsive system, or software bugs, the Help Desk solution always ensures a seamless tech experience for users by quickly addressing and resolving these immediate issues.

In contrast, the typical Service Desk adopts a business-centric viewpoint, serving as the comprehensive manager of an organization’s IT infrastructure. Beyond just tackling immediate technical problems, the Service Desk is the strategic conductor of IT services, operating in accordance with IT Service Management principles.

It plays a proactive role, focusing on the planning and execution of IT services in a timely manner that aligns with the broader business goals. As a single point of contact for all IT-related concerns, the Service Desk is instrumental in driving business success through effective IT service management processes.

How ITSM Can Help the IT Service Desk?

Before we get too deep into the weeds of help desks vs service desks, let’s get clear on another term that’s important to know: ITSM Stands for IT service management, ITSM is an acronym used to describe how a company’s IT team manages service lifecycle and the end-to-end delivery of IT services to customers. This includes a variety of activities and processes involved in the ideation, creation, design, delivery, and support of IT services.

While ITSM solutions are often confused with IT-related tasks alone, it’s truthfully more than this. The ITSM team is responsible for more than just basic IT support. They handle everything having to do with workplace technology, including servers, laptops, devices, and business-critical applications. Next-gen ITSM solutions, which are powered by artificial intelligence, significantly help IT departments.

How to Build the Right Support System for the Service Requests

As you can see, the difference between service desks and help desks is very nuanced. In fact, you might even have trouble recognizing the key differences between these two different “desks” after reading the explanations above. If that’s the case, don’t be discouraged. (You’re not alone.)

If you want to set your business up well, focus less on terminology and more on the value you’re providing. Your goal is to solve issues as quickly as possible and provide the support that all end users and stakeholders need to be successful. Whether you call it service desk support, service desk services, automated help desk, support center, or some other clever name, doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you have the right tools and infrastructure in place.

Try Service Desk Powered by AiseraGPT and Generative AI

At Aisera, we provide advanced AI service desk solutions and ticket management power by Generative AI to enhance proactive, predictive, and prescriptive resolution of tasks, problems, incidents, and actions. Our help and service desk software and ticketing system automation make it easy to streamline every touchpoint, while simultaneously reducing repetitive inquiries and automating workflows.

Our Aisera AI service desk solution includes Conversational AI and automation, as well as Ticket AI to:

  • Auto-resolve incoming requests immediately in real-time
  • Reduce the amount of repetitive paperwork and improve employee productivity
  • Enhance employee satisfaction

One of Aisera’s best features is its ability to deeply integrate with knowledge base systems and existing collaboration apps to ensure all structured and unstructured content is converted for something we call “autonomous knowledge resolution.” This basically means Aisera can tap into any existing content and leverage it for the purpose of further providing advanced services and other support capabilities.

Would you like to learn more about how you can create exceptional employee and customer experiences while simultaneously reducing customer service issues and costs so that your business is able to run as smoothly as possible? We’ll be happy to show you the ins and outs of our platform so that you can feel confident integrating it into your business. Request a tailored AI demo today!

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