Is a help desk a service desk, and vice versa? To those not in the information technology industry, these terms sometimes get thrown around interchangeably. But they’re not one in the same.

Here, we’ll look at what defines an IT service desk and what you should look for when seeking out this essential function of managed services providers.

What is a help desk?

A help desk (sometimes called “helpdesk”) provides what’s referred to as “break-fix” support for users (whether customer or employee) of a company product, service or other function. A help desk’s purpose might cover everything from technical support, to product or warranty questions, and even to basic customer service. Most important to understand: This kind of customer support isn’t limited to IT.

What is a service desk?

An IT service desk is a single, centralized point of contact for those who use and need help resolving issues with information technology. However, there’s so much more to a service desk than simply troubleshooting and solving problems.

According to the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), “service operation” delivers agreed-upon levels of service to users, and also manages the technology that supports delivery of those services. The IT service desk is a critical function of service operation, and its defining feature is wrapped up in that all-important word: Service.

An emphasis on the word “service”

Back in the early days of computing, IT service desk functions were skewed on the side of technology, rather than user experience. But with the advent of ITIL in the 1990s, service desk support started to become codified as a critical function of service operation.

From that time forward, users — not just the technology they rely upon — became the focal point. The systematic approach to delivering IT services prescribed by ITIL helps to strengthen relationships between IT providers and end users. It relies on best practices that help manage risk and cost, and views IT support holistically and strategically, rather than just as an organized way to deal with day-to-day technical issues, incidents and service requests.

What should my IT service desk do?

Because serving users is the name of the game when it comes to this function of IT support, rapid response and resolution of issues is a priority. IT service desk teams and desk agents should be all about getting users and their systems back online as fast as possible — and not just to close the ticket, but because service disruption is costly to a business. This is also where 24×7 support comes in.

It’s this big-picture take on support that truly differentiates an IT service desk from a help desk.

Here are some areas you can rely on your IT service desk to handle:

  • Service request management
  • Incident management
  • Knowledge management
  • Asset management
  • Employee onboarding and access
  • Software license management
  • 3rd party support contracts
  • Remote desktop support
  • Reporting

What’s next?

Get comprehensive service desk solutions you can count on with AccountabilIT. We know that your productivity and profitability is compromised every time you experience a disruption in your technology, and we’re here to support a happy user community for your business. Learn more about what makes our customer-driven IT services different.