What Is The Difference Between Help Desk and Service Desk?

helpdesk vs servicedesk

For many people the terms ‘Help Desk’ and ‘Service Desk’ are all the same. As a matter of fact, these two notions have different meanings. Naturally, they are frequently used together, as their key objectives have a lot in common. And still, we should not forget about the difference between them!

Talking about service desk platforms, we often imply bpm’online – a cloud application with user-friendly tools for the full-cycle service management. It allows medium and large businesses deliver high-level service through several channels of communication. The CRM-oriented platform of bpm’online provides companies a 360° view of their customers, an easy-to-use contact center, a service catalogue, and a number of tools for a problem, release, service, and knowledge management. The platform is widely used by companies from different industries and of different size.

But let’s get back to the matter in hand: what is the distinction between help desk and service desk systems – and what is common between them?

What It Help Desk?


The standard definition of this term is as follows: it is the system, which helps the client service agents quickly resolve customers’ needs, as well as technical problems and incidents. This software is focused externally: its key aim is to increase the rate of customers’ satisfaction and improve the overall image of the business. Help desk can function apart from the service desk platform or, on the contrary, be its indispensable part. In any case, the ultimate goal of this solution is to offer the company’s customers first contact resolution as promptly as possible.

As a rule, help desk platforms possess the following characteristic features:

  • They’ve got a single point of contact for IT support;
  • They include tools for problem management;
  • They are integrated with other IT service management processes;
  • Some of their application can be supported by the agents outside of the help desk;
  • Help desk platforms can be used for escalation procedures;
  • They possess broad knowledge bases and offer companies tracking solution for all types of incoming issues.

What Is Service Desk?

Service Desk

It is a broader term, implying a more strategic and interorganizational solution focused on the company’s needs. As different from help desk, service desk platforms are internally or organizationally focused. According to the ITIL 3, these systems act as the ‘Single Point of Contact’ between the clients and the company’s agents. They are aimed at management of incidents and service requests, as well as intercommunication with the customers – the ones who use the organization’s products and services. The standard service desk software includes help desk components, too, as its major aim is to improve the firm’s IT and business processes.

Let us have a look at the basic features of such platforms:

  • They provide comprehensive integration with other service management processes;
  • These solutions are commonly used for change management;
  • They are a single point of contact for all IT apps and business processes;
  • Service desk platforms can help in management of releases and problems;
  • They provide a variety of tools for service level management;
  • Such software often includes service or self-service catalogues (they can also be the part of help desk platforms);
  • It can have a configuration management database and perform asset discovery and management.

Help Desk or Service Desk – What to Implement?

All in all, there are no specific rules concerning this question. In some cases, it is better for a company to choose a service desk solution, while in others a good help desk platform is quite enough. Nevertheless, most specialists share the view that the first variant is more profitable and tactically promising. Such software lets a company’s agents monitor the overall IT performance issues, control business processes, and provide immediate interaction between different aspects of the firm’s life.

Nowadays, most businesses decide on the service desk platforms, which can either link to help desk solutions, or perform help desk functions. Normally, such systems are focused on the firm’s corporate strategy, its IT functioning, and successful communication between the business and its clients. The software of the kind should perform a number of additional tasks:

  • As a rule, these platforms have mobile solutions for customers, so that the latter could solve some of their problems without the agents’ support.
  • They enable a business and process automation, which increases the team’s responsiveness and efficiency.
  • Implementing service desk software, the employees get some extra time for a number of new tasks, as their daily operations get automated.
  • Being indispensable parts of such platforms, actionable intelligence tools provide better decision-support capacity for the IT department.
  • This software offers the agents a complete overview of the company’s infrastructure, its interdependencies, performance data, and actionable knowledge.