Service Desk vs. Help Desk: Why You Should Know the Difference

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Wait…Aren’t they the same thing? If you asked yourself this question, there is no need to worry, because you are not alone. Often used interchangeably to describe a team of IT professionals that provides support to end users, an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) defined Service Desk stands apart from your typical Help Desk (also called a call center, support center, or just tech support) for a variety of reasons.

What’s the difference?

A typical IT Help Desk focuses on solving client’s problems quickly and efficiently; think password resets or email issues. The main function is to troubleshoot user issues as they arise. A Service Desk, on the other hand, is a full service team that provides a single point of contact between a service provider and the users. Basically, a Help Desk just handles IT issues while a Service Desk is a one stop shop for all of your IT needs. A Help Desk, then, can be seen as a key component of a robust Service Desk team.

What Can a Service Desk do that a Help Desk Cannot?

As mentioned above, a Help Desk generally only deals with reactionary support. A Service Desk has multiple components for managing the full spectrum of an organization’s IT needs. A few examples of this include:

  • Proactive incident resolution through a dedicated Problem Management team
  • Diagnosing the root cause of an incident
  • Continual Service Improvement (see our article on the CSI process for more information)
  • Change Management
  • Service changes (i.e. resource changes, adding a program, etc.)
  • Capacity Management
  • Post Incident Reports and Follow up
  • Security Management
  • Asset Management

Why does it matter?

If you are looking for additional IT support for your organization, then the difference between the two is critical. IT Service organizations that advertise “Help Desk Support” may be primarily staffed with “break/fix” technicians, and might not be as forward thinking as a full Service Desk. While solving incidents quickly is important, a Service Desk will be able to do that and more.

Looking for more? Reach out to our team to learn more about everything a Service Desk can do for your organization.

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