The Difference Between Help Desk and Service Desk

The Difference Between Help Desk and Service Desk

Your organization likely dedicates significant time, money, and other resources to supporting technology for end users, including assisting them when there’s a problem and engaging in proactive maintenance and servicing of systems and equipment. Distinguishing the difference between help desk and service desk terminology may help you refine how you offer this support.

For many enterprises, these terms are used interchangeably, but as digital transformation initiatives broadly expand the role of technology in business processes, assistance also expands. Learning the difference between how help desk and service desk functions serve your company will help you offer each in a setting that is more beneficial to end users.

While the basic function of both the help desk and the service desk is to provide assistance to end users and resolve technology problems in a fast and efficient manner, there are key differences:

The Help Desk

A help desk tends to be reactionary in nature. Like a service desk, it solves challenges that impede efficient business tasks, but it operates around a putting-out-fires mindset. The help desk responds to the end users' requests for assistance with items such as troubleshooting when an application doesn’t seem to be communicating with its integrated technology or helping an employee when their mobile apps are not syncing with the same ones they access on a laptop. A help desk will also help with malfunctioning equipment and will generally offer more basic services.

The Service Desk

The service desk, generally speaking, evolved from a desire to minimize the need for extensive help desk support. The service desk, rather than reactionary like the help desk, is a proactive effort to support and maintain systems and hardware. It’s a service-oriented, progressive approach to equipping end users with reliable and updated technology.

The service desk engages in a wide variety of support functions, including:

  • Creating automated solutions to prevent a problem from recurring
  • Building a knowledge base around problem issues for future issue resolution
  • Providing recommendations for investments in solutions or tools that better support technology or processes
  • Looking for value-added solutions to support end users, rather than simply logging problems

Learning the difference between help desk and service desk capabilities may help your enterprise determine whether it makes sense to outsource one or both of these areas of IT. There are several benefits that come with outsourcing IT services:

Cost Savings include not having to pay the salary and benefits of help desk employees, but there are also soft cost savings. You don’t have to invest in the training to keep in-house employees up to date on new features and tools in each platform and application. Help and service desk employees also tend to get bogged down in the mundane tasks associated with these jobs, so turnover tends to be high.

Availability of outsourced help and service desk services may be 24/7, depending on the provider. Even if the provider only offers hours that are extended beyond your own, it can help meet the needs of employees that work outside of normal office hours. If you’re serving end users across a global enterprise, or if you have a high percentage of mobile or remote employees, a higher level of availability is an important benefit.

Focus on your core business needs, utilizing your best IT professionals to strategize how to best apply technology to drive business objectives. Across all industries, IT is moving away from a maintenance role and into a strategic role. Outsourcing your help or service desk can help you achieve that level of dedication to your digital transformation initiatives.

Choosing the Right Provider

Maybe you’ve determined that outsourcing makes sense for your organization, but there are a few considerations you should include when choosing a provider. Take the following into account:

  • Conduct a needs assessment to determine whether help, service, or both functions should be outsourced. Taking this step helps you avoid getting distracted by the particular features or fancy tools that a provider may demonstrate.
  • Does the provider commit to the ongoing and proactive training of its technicians?
  • Find out the provider’s results in terms of clients’ return on investment and how well they adhere to their service level agreements (SLAs).
  • Assess their commitment to keeping pace with the development of new technology, so they are prepared to grow with your company as you upgrade solutions.
  • Discuss the range of services they provide. Some providers will focus more on everyday help desk solutions, while others are centered on the proactive optimization of systems. Unless you specifically want to invest in one of these areas, it’s a good thing to seek balance. Keep in mind that as you grow, you’ll likely need to invest in both areas.

Learning the difference between help desk and service desk functions can help your enterprise determine whether outsourcing makes sense for your organization. To get started examining the possibility, take a look at this free resource, then contact us at SinglePoint Global.

Want to learn more? Discover all the benefits of outsourced help desk in our ultimate guide.


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