Service Desk vs. Help Desk: In what ways are they different?

Service Desk

Service DeskService Desk and Help Desk are two terms that belong to ITSM and that are related to high-efficiency tools focused on improving the service that companies offer to their clients. However, and although both terms are frequently used as synonyms; the truth is that depending on the context, Service Desk, and Help Desk can mean two different things.



I’m sure you’re wondering now, what are those differences that distinguish one from the other? Is it important for my business that I know these dissimilarities? Which could work better for my business? If you want to have some idea of what the answers are to these questions; we recommend that you continue reading this interesting article that we have prepared for you today.

From the Help Desk to the Service Desk

The introduction of PCs in the 1980s was the phenomenon that gave rise to everything that would later become the IT support market. It is precisely at this time that the first Help Desks were born; all of which were far from having the characteristics and efficiency of the current Help Desks.

It is not until the end of the ’80s when the ITIL reference framework comes to the rescue to propose a more optimal way to manage Information Technologies.

This set of best practices introduced the concept of an integrated Service Desk as a single point of contact for all IT-related customer requests.

Service Desk

Although they are often used as synonyms, because they share common functions; the terms Help Desk and Service Desk encompass completely different concepts. As a technical support center, the Help Desk helps customers get the most out of technology, provides high-level technical services and focuses more on the incident, asset, and basic change management.


The Service Desk, on the other hand, is not only dedicated to providing excellent technical support, but it is also closely related to all IT processes and part of its function is to focus also on business needs.

To make this point clearer, let’s look at exactly what functions each one performs within the company.

The Help Desk

A Help Desk is a tool that organizations use to provide assistance or advice to customers in response to a particular request. It aims to provide information and technology solutions to customers.

Typically, Helpdesks are composed of groups of technicians, who use their expertise to find solutions that best respond to customers’ questions or requests. This process of searching for and providing answers is divided into two levels according to the complexity of the request:

Level 1

This level deals with common situations where the customer simply asks for more information about a product or service. At this stage, the hotline is responsible for identifying needs and providing advice.

Level 2

Here the level of complexity of requests increases. Requests at this level typically require the technician to assist the customer in a more personalized manner either through telephone support or through on-site support.

Helpdesks offer quick and practical solutions to customers and represent a point of contact between the company and the consumer. This point of contact serves not only to solve problems but also to motivate customer loyalty to the brand.

The Service Desk

The Service Desk is also responsible for responding to customer requests, in fact, it can do almost anything a Help Desk does. However, its functions go much further.


Service Desk


To better understand this idea, we need to take a closer look at the ITIL framework. This set of best practices provides a holistic view of IT, allowing companies, in addition to solving customer problems, to focus on other important areas such as Incident Management, Change Management, and Continuous Improvement.



Based on this set of best practices, the Service Desk also adopts a proactive approach that allows it to anticipate incidents and create strategies to optimize the IT ecosystem infrastructure within the enterprise.

This global strategic vision of the Service Desk can influence in a positive way not only the IT department; but also departments like finance, operations, human resources, etc.

In Conclusion

The Help Desk…

  •  Works on reactivity: Resolves short-term problems as customers manifest them.
  • Focuses on tasks: A Help Desk is usually oriented to solving problems individually which makes each request is seen as a task.
  •  Its focus is on customers: The main priority of the Help Desk is to solve end user problems.
  • Requires few resources: A Help Desk can be large or small depending on the needs and resources of each company. In the case of small Help Desks, they can work well with a small group of technicians and basic software.

The Service Desk for its part…

  • It is proactive: Thanks to its strategic vision it is able to detect complex problems and their roots; to finally find effective solutions in the long term.
  • Focuses on processes: Being based on ITIL, the Service Desk is governed by processes. This gives you a more comprehensive view of the company and gives you greater scope when implementing strategies.
  • It has an integral vision: This type of perspective allows the Service Desk to align itself with the business objectives.
  • Its center is the strategies: Although it also prioritizes the end user, the Service Desk focuses on strategies to improve workflows; such as process automation.
  • Need more resources: Because it covers more areas within the company; the Service Desk requires more complex tools and more specialized staff to achieve its objectives.

Service Desk

It is important to emphasize that the concepts are not divorced in any way. In contrast, the Service Desk and Help Desk can be seamlessly combined within ITSM. Remember that the effectiveness of one or the other depends a lot on the right tool, so choose well.

If you want a recommendation, take a look at Freshworks and its range of solutions. There you will find excellent tools like Freshservice and Freshdesk.


Now that you know the difference between these two terms a little better; do you know which one suits your business best? If you’re not sure yet, don’t worry. Contact us and clear all your doubts. At GB Advisors we offer you the perfect tools to help you meet your business objectives.

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