There is a vast difference between an IT Service Desk and a Helpdesk.  It is not just semantics. Sometimes, both names are used interchangeably, without thought to the essential differences. It makes it even more confusing when technology companies offer both types of assistance, but the support provided by both services is not identical. By examining what each service offers, you can determine which one meets your target customers’ need.

What are the Critical Differences?

  • Help vs. Service

The names of the two types of assistance are telling. From a helpdesk, customers can expect advice, but an IT service desk includes an IT-related service to correct the problem.

  • Origins

Helpdesks began as an “add on” to IT activities, while IT service desks arose from the demands of customer service. It therefore became a required service, not just as an “add on” to IT. It is the foundation of the service lifecycle for the products offered.

  • Value

The help desk is generally considered as more tactical and aimed to fix a problem quickly. Meanwhile, the IT service desk is wrapped around a company’s overall view of customer service and is more strategic. How can the problem for the customer be fixed most thoughtfully and for the long-term?

The difference in the names signifies a shift in the IT industry’s attitude. Initially, IT seemingly treated the customer as an afterthought, but eventually evolved to place the customer at the center of technology.

  • Placement in an Organization

The helpdesk can be viewed as a subset of the service department.

  • Expectations

With a helpdesk, the focus is on incident management. When something is broken, that item is repaired. But with an IT service desk, the same repair will be accomplished, but the service desk also accommodates requests for the installation of new services and how-to questions such as “How do I print from my new phone?”  The service desk has a much broader approach.


Current Evolution

Forrester Research’s principal analyst serving infrastructure and operations professionals Charles Betz, said IT Service Management companies allow employees to use the service desk for non-IT matters such as tracking down colleagues in other facilities, filing tickets for plumbing and electricity issues, and other inquiries that require human intervention but can be triaged through automation, reports TechRadar. The new name for this all-encompassing helpdesk is called Enterprise Service Management (EMS). Time will tell whether this type of service desk will be available in most companies.


IT Service Desk: In-house or Outsourced?

Companies can decide to employ and train staff to run their own in-house IT service desk or to outsource the process to an expert firm.  There are many advantages to outsourcing this part of your enterprise.

  • You can concentrate on your core business while being assured of best practices from a professional company that specializes in IT service desk processes.
  • You can be free of the time and expense of hiring and train staff for this specific purpose.
  • Your IT service desk will grow as your business grows.
  • Many IT service desk companies comply with an international standard for service protocols known as Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).
  • The outsourced service runs 24/7/365 days a year. This level of commitment may be difficult in your enterprise.
  • Your company will receive reports about the type of incidents monthly, so you can spot and rectify recurring problems.
  • Your client will assume that the service is a section of your operations, building your competency in their eyes thereby building a good reputation.


Key Indicators of a Competent IT Service Desk Provider

There are key indicators to look for when searching for a service desk provider.

  • Years of Service in the Business: As in many endeavors, experience counts.
  • ITIL Certifications: This will assure you of competently trained staff.
  • 24/7/365 Days Coverage: Your organization deserves this type of coverage.
  • Positive Testimonials: Look for companies in a similar industry as yours to view the specific benefits of the service.
  • Quick, Competent Responses to your Customers: Does the company have a policy that concentrates on customer service? It will be necessary for the agent who answers the phone to supply the solution.
  • Remote Access to the User’s Computer Capability: A first-hand view of the problem can lead to a quick response.
  • Call Logging: You need monthly reports for an up-to-date view of the issues encountered by your customers to rectify common questions or to streamline your business model.
  • Layers of Support: Should the agent who answers the call require someone with more expertise, is there a technician available for consultation?
  • Customer Satisfaction Verified: Each call should end with the customer indicating that the problem has been solved.

Yes, the difference between an IT Service Desk and a Helpdesk is discernable. For your purposes, it is best to concentrate your efforts on ascertaining the differences between firms that fit the bill and ones that excel at their IT Service Desk.

If you are looking for an expert provider of IT service desk offerings, email us today.


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