Help Desk vs Service Desk: what’s the difference ?

June 20, 2023
min read
Help desk vs service desk, what is the difference

Help Desk vs. Service Desk: Understanding the Differences

The terms "Help Desk" and "Service Desk" are often used interchangeably to describe an internal support platform. However, there are key differences between these two concepts.

The Help Desk: Reactive Support for Incident Resolution

The Help Desk is a support solution that allows users to report incidents or issues related to internal devices, tools and SaaS applications.

The role of the help desk is to quickly resolve reported problems (i.e. incident management) to reduce downtime and maintain employee productivity. It allows IT teams to gain visibility on employees' issues and give them assistance straight away. 

In addition to issue tracking, help desk solutions usually include functionalities such as ticket priorisation, routing and escalation to ensure that issues are addressed in an effective manner.

Some help desk systems also provide other key features such as : 

  • Knowledge base gathering resources of most recurring issues and solutions.
  • Analytics to monitor and give some insights on internal operations

Put simply, help desk solutions tend to focus on reactive support, responding to issues as they arise rather than proactively seeking out and addressing potential issues.

Advantages of a Help Desk: Improved Issue Tracking and Faster Resolution

Here are 5 key advantages of a help desk :

  1. Improved Issue Tracking: a help desk system provides a central system to track reported issues and to ensure that no incident falls through the cracks. With a help desk, internal teams can easily see which issues are open, pending or resolved, or which ones require further attention.

  1. Faster Issue Resolution: Help desk software provides IT teams with the tools they need to quickly and efficiently resolve reported issues and assist employees in their daily incidents. Routing and escalation improve collaboration to ensure that employees can get back to work as soon as possible.

  1. Increased Employee Productivity: By providing employees with a help desk, it minimizes distractions and interruptions that can negatively impact employee productivity. Employees can report issues and get assistance without having to leave their workstation or interrupt their workflow.

  1. Improved Communication: help desk softwares provide a platform for internal teams to communicate with employees and keep them informed about the status of reported issues. This helps to build trust and transparency between IT and other departments, increasing overall organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

  1. Monitor and analyze your support process: With a help desk, IT teams can easily see which issues are recurring, which require the most resources to resolve, and which can be resolved quickly. This helps to identify areas where internal teams can make improvements to minimize future issues and optimize resource allocation.

While the main focus of a help desk is fixing issues, a service desk’s main focus is delivering service to employees. But concretely, what is a service desk ?

The Service Desk: Delivering End-to-End IT Service Management

The Service desk provides end-to-end management of the company's IT services and is responsible for ensuring that these services are meeting the needs of the business.

According to IBM, a service desk is “a delivery mechanism that provides a single point of contact (SPOC) between IT organizations and end users”. In short, service desks manage the entire life cycle of IT service delivery, from managing service requests to resolving problems and planning service upgrades.

The Service Desk team works to resolve any issues quickly and efficiently while also proactively identifying and addressing potential issues before they can become problems. 

Key Features of a Service Desk: Service Management, Proactive Problem Prevention and Service Level Management

In other words, a Service Desk goes beyond reactive issue resolution and focuses on delivering end-to-end service to employees. 

Here are three key features that characterize a Service Desk and set it apart from a help desk:

  1. Service Management Approach: The Service Desk adopts a service management approach which means it manages the entire lifecycle of IT services. It goes beyond issue resolution and encompasses various aspects such as incident management, problem management, change management and service request management. To be more specific, the Service Desk ensures that IT services are aligned with the organization’s objectives and continuously strives to improve service delivery.

  1. Proactive Problem Prevention: Unlike a help desk that primarily responds to reported issues, the Service Desk proactively identifies and addresses potential problems before they impact employees. It employs monitoring tools, analyzes data and implements preventive measures to mitigate risks and minimize disruptions. This proactive problem prevention helps to maintain high level of service availability, optimize resources and enhance overall user experience.

  1. Service Level Management: A Service Desk typically involves managing service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure that IT services meet defined performance targets and employees expectations. It establishes clear communication channels with internal stakeholders, tracks service metrics and reports on service performance. By actively monitoring SLAs, the Service Desk can address service gaps, drive continuous improvement and foster a culture of transparency.

These three key features highlight the broader scope and proactive nature of a Service Desk compared to a help desk. While a help desk focuses on incident resolution and reactive support, the Service Desk takes a strategic approach to IT service management, aligning IT services with business objectives, proactively preventing problems, and ensuring adherence to service level agreements.

Benefits of a Service Desk: Centralized Support and Improved IT Service Delivery

Benefits are multiple with a Service Desk. 

It provides employees with a central point of contact for all IT-related issues. This can help to minimize confusion and improve communication, as employees know exactly where to turn when they need assistance. 

Moreover, it can help to improve IT service delivery: by proactively identifying and addressing potential issues before they become problems, the Service Desk can help you to ensure that IT services are meeting the needs of the business.
Ultimately, a Service Desk can help you to reduce IT costs by improving the efficiency of IT operations by reducing the number of incidents that occur and the amount of time and resources that are required to resolve them. This can help to improve the ROI of IT investments and free up resources for other business-critical initiatives.

Automation Capabilities of a Service Desk: Streamlining Processes and Enhancing User Experience

At last, Service Desk provides a wide range of automation capabilities that help streamline processes, increase efficiency, and improve the overall user experience. Here are some examples of the automations that can be created with a Service Desk:

  1. Ticket Routing and Assignment: Automating ticket routing and assignment ensures that incoming requests are assigned to the right team or individual based on predefined rules and criteria. This eliminates the need for manual triaging and ensures that tickets reach the appropriate person without delay.

  2. Knowledge Base Suggestions: Automation can be used to provide intelligent knowledge base suggestions to users and support agents. As users enter their requests or issues, the system can automatically search the knowledge base for relevant articles or solutions, reducing the need for manual search and providing quick and accurate self-help options.

  3. Request Processing: Many routine and repetitive requests can be automated within a Service Desk. For example, password resets, quick reply, software installations, or access provisioning can be automated through predefined workflows and integrations with other systems. This reduces the manual effort required by support agents and accelerates the fulfillment of user requests.

  4. Notification and Communication: Automations can be set up to send automated notifications and updates to users regarding the status of their tickets. This keeps users informed throughout the support process and reduces the need for manual follow-ups. Additionally, notifications can be sent to IT teams or stakeholders to keep them informed about critical incidents or changes.

  5. Self-Service Capabilities: A Service Desk can provide self-service portals where users can submit requests, track ticket status, and access knowledge base resources. Automation can enhance these self-service capabilities by enabling users to perform tasks such as password resets, system restarts, or software installations on their own, reducing dependency on support teams and empowering users to resolve issues independently.

These automation capabilities within a Service Desk reduce manual effort, accelerate response times, and improve overall operational efficiency. By automating repetitive tasks and leveraging intelligent workflows, organizations can optimize their support processes, enhance user satisfaction, and enable IT teams to focus on more strategic initiatives.

Overall, the Service Desk is an important part of any organization's IT Service Management strategy. By investing in a Service Desk, organizations can improve their overall IT service delivery and help to ensure that IT services are meeting the needs of the business.

Siit: Advanced Functionalities and GPT AI Assistant

At Siit, our internal support platform is clearly on the side of a Service Desk, offering advanced functionalities for managing IT service requests and incidents, as well as automations to streamline processes and improve efficiency.

Siit AI: AI Assistant for Level 1 Support Request

One standout feature is Siit AI, our AI-powered virtual assistant that can handle Level 1 and 2 support requests thanks to GPT-4. Siit AI leverages natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to understand and respond to user queries and issues. It can provide instant assistance and intelligent suggestions based on its vast knowledge base, which is continuously updated with the latest information from your company.
With Siit AI, employees can quickly find answers to common questions, troubleshoot technical issues, and access self-help resources without the need to wait for human intervention.

Seamless Integrations

Furthermore, Siit's seamless integration with other collaboration tools and systems enhances the user experience and overall efficiency. 

  • Communication Channel integration to avoid adding another tool and adapt to employee day-to-day. Traditional Help Desk or Service Desk are frustrating and not human. By seamlessly integrating with popular communication tools like Slack, Teams and email, Siit eliminates the need for adding another tool to the already crowded tech stack. It allows employees to stay within their familiar channels and adapt to their day-to-day workflows, avoiding the frustrations and impersonal nature of traditional Help Desk or Service Desk systems.
  • Multi-Knowledge Base integration to boost internal productivity. Siit supports the integration of multiple knowledge bases, consolidating information from various sources into a single accessible platform (Notion, Confluence, Drive, Box…). This eliminates the need for employees to search minutes for the right articles or rely on outdated documentation, ensuring they have instant access to accurate and up-to-date knowledge to resolve their requests efficiently.

Transforming IT Service Management with Siit

In conclusion, Siit embodies the characteristics of a Service Desk by offering the perfect combination between automation and human support to build employee relationships. With Siit, organizations can leverage the benefits of AI and automation to drive productivity, improve employee satisfaction, and achieve their business objectives.

If you want to know more about Siit, try it for free.

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Arnaud Chemla
Account Executive

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