What’s the Difference Between a Help Desk and Service Desk?

Help Desk vs. Service Desk: What’s the Difference

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 service desk and help desk are two of the most common. Is there any difference between the two? Let’s explore service desk vs. help desk.

What is ITSM?

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. Standing for IT service management, ITSM is an acronym used to describe how a company’s IT team manages 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.

What is a Service Desk?

A service desk can be described as the single point of contact or interaction between the service provider and the users. The service desk manages incidents and service 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 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 and service request management. These are robust, service-oriented departments that are built around connecting IT to customers to provide timely help.

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 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 it relates to very specific issues.

How to Build the Right Support System for Your Business Processes

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

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 their own terminology. This means it’s less about the term and more about the support that’s provided.

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 a support desk, service desk, help desk, support center, or some other clever name, doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you have the right infrastructure in place.

Try Aisera Today

At Aisera, we provide advanced AI service desk solutions that empower proactive, predictive, and prescriptive resolution of tasks, problems, incidents, and actions. Our help desk ticketing system automation makes it easy to streamline every touchpoint, while simultaneously automating any repetitive inquiries and workflows.

Our Aisera AI service desk includes Conversational AI & Automation, as well as Ticket AI to:

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 purposes of providing support.

Would you like to learn more about how you can create exceptional employee and customer experiences while simultaneously reducing service costs so that your business is able to run as smoothly as possible? Request a demo today and 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.