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Help Desk vs. Service Desk: differences & "1:1 Comparison"

In this guide, we analyze and compare help desk and service desk services and software...

Emma Collins
May 4, 2022
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Businesses worldwide have slowly shifted to digitization and automation to make their operations more seamless and efficient. It has also helped them meet the needs of their workforce and reduce unengaged employees, which comprise 67% according to the analytics and advisory company Gallup. But what are these services?

Global employee engagement in 2022

Two of the most widely used IT support management services are help desk and service desk systems. While these terms may seem similar at first glance, they have stark differences depending on your company's needs.

In this guide, we'll compare the definition, features, costs, and uses of help desks and service desks. We'll also tackle the existing software used for these two types of systems.

Summary: Help Desk vs. Service Desk

A help desk primarily revolves around the end-user. More specifically, it handles and resolves incidents that may have appeared. It does its function using its four key features — a contact channel, ticket management support, knowledge base, and analytics.

Two guys using a help desk online

Meanwhile, a service desk uses an IT infrastructure library and is more concerned with the overall business objectives and needs. It doesn't only handle incidents but also manages services and information requests. On top of this, it has added features including SLA and asset management and a service catalog.

Help DeskService Desk
  • Focuses on end-user
  • Reactive approach
  • Incident management
  • Task-oriented
  • Focuses on objectives of business
  • Proactive approach
  • Organizational optimization
  • Process-oriented

Difference Between a Help Desk (Freshdesk) and a Service Desk Software (Jira)

Freshdesk is one of the best help desk software because of its flexible pricing packages. It also has a friendly user interface perfect for small businesses and SaaS startups.

This top question-based query tool has many integrations to various business platforms like Salesforce and Slack. It's available on almost all devices and features a rich customer service platform and advanced workflow automation.

On the other hand, the Jira Service Management is one of the hottest service desk options. It's cloud-based and is suitable for various industries ranging from IT, HR, legal, and internal support teams.

Jira logo and trademark

Since it focuses on the overall customer experience, this service desk features automation, self-service, and conversational ticketing on top of its incident management tool. You can also set up native knowledge integrations for an added price.

Difference Between Help Desk vs Service Desk (In Detail)

Although an IT help desk and service desk overlap, they serve various functions and focus on different components of businesses. Nonetheless, they're still necessary for ensuring incident management and organizational optimization.

Below is a more in-depth comparison between the two IT support and service management systems.

What is a Help Desk? 

Help desks are reactive systems because their primary function is to manage technical issues reported by end-users. In particular, customers and employees can use this to ask for assistance when an incident arises. The support team also relies on this service to track complaints and provide quick solutions.

Troubleshooting on a laptop

Given this function, you can incorporate help desks into broader IT operations. You can also integrate them with service desk software to broaden its capabilities and deliver a better customer experience.

What is a Service Desk? 

Since most businesses want to deliver high-quality services, owners can have a more proactive system with a service desk. It doesn't only revolve around incident management but also looks into service requests, communication, and other functions.

Colleagues using a service desk to coordinate their network

Compared to help desks, service desks also focus on your company's overall needs and long-term objectives. For instance, end-users can use a help desk when reporting a down website. But with service desks, you can also request additional services like printers and laptops.

Uses of Help Desk 

Most of the uses of a help desk revolve around resolving tickets. However, it can branch out to other necessary functions for your business. Here's a list of the usual help desk uses:

Ensure An Accurate Ticket Management 

A help desk software can notify you whenever a ticket enters. It can also convert emails to tickets automatically and channel them to the right IT expert for quick solutions.

Resolve Tickets More Quickly

Once a ticket enters, IT experts can quickly look into the issue and collaborate with other team members. You can also categorize and prioritize end-user tickets and direct more urgent incidents to higher-ups.

A large office with employees at their computers

Build A Knowledge Base 

You can create a comprehensive knowledge base on your company's website containing recurring customer questions. This section also helps resolve tickets more consistently regardless of the agent working on the issue.

Uses of Service Desk 

The main objective of a service desk is to ensure organizational optimization. That's why its uses are broader than a help desk. Here's a list of when you should use service desks:

Centralize Business Processes

Collaboration between various departments of your business is possible with a service desk. You can easily assign, track, and resolve tickets using this software.

Make Data-Driven Choices

You can make well-informed decisions based on data collected by a service desk. Generally, they store information regarding issues, performance, and more.

Company data on a laptop sitting on a desk

Improve Business Efficiency

It's easier to standardize various IT processes supported by ITL guidelines using a service desk. That's why strategy planning and tracking become more robust with this service.

Enhance Resource Management

A service desk can store all the details of your hardware, software, assets, and contracts. So you can easily retrieve and maintain them when you have this system set up.

Features of Help Desk 

All help desk software has similar features to accurately, consistently, and quickly resolve tickets from end-users. They typically feature a contact channel, ticket management support, knowledge base, and analytics.

Contact Channels

Since a help desk relies on tickets, it needs a contact channel where end-users can send their complaints. You can have various channels like an email, phone hotline, email, live chat, forum, or an FAQ section.

Ticket Management

You can't call a help desk by its name if it doesn't come with ticket management support. This feature is necessary because it's responsible for recording, organizing, and tracking tickets from start to finish. It can also convert emails to tickets easily and redirect them to the appropriate IT expert.

A service team helping an employee at her desk

Self-Service

Another essential feature of a help desk is its self-service or knowledge base. The software compiles recurring questions and creates 24/7 FAQs or blog posts on your website.

Analytics

A help desk can create visual representations of valuable market information and insights. You can look at the top issues, buying patterns, and customer demographics.

Features of Service Desk 

A typical service desk contains the key features in a help desk software — a contact channel, ticket management support, knowledge base, and analytics. However, it has additional tools to help you achieve your company's objectives and overall needs.

SLA Management

You can prioritize incoming tickets based on SLAs and direct them to your support team or managers. You can also check whether the deadlines for each incident or service request meet management rules.

SLA management being used by a worker

Task and Asset Management

It's easier to organize and manage different tasks and issues using a service desk. Because of this, you can encourage collaboration and ensure seamless releases from one department to the next. You can also check all your IT and business assets.

Service Catalog

You can have a centralized platform containing all your existing services. This feature makes your operations more accessible to your departments. It also usually includes a ticket submission tool for your queries.

Which Software is Used for Help Desk?

There are plenty of flexible and robust help desks available in the market. They all have unique features that set them apart from each other. Let’s take a closer look at the best help desk ticketing systems below:

Zendesk

Other than Freshdesk, Zendesk is also a highly recommended IT support software. It has an easily customizable interface and an impressive query and analytics tool. With these features, you can measure customer satisfaction and employee performance.

Zendesk logo and trademark

But what makes it another top option is its versatile integration ability with various programs and apps. However, this software's entry price may be too costly for some users.

Zoho Desk

Following Zendesk on this list is Zoho Desk because of its long list of robust and intuitive features. In particular, it has an automated ticket routing function and more available channels on social media. It's also budget-friendly compared to other help desk systems.

Zoho Desk logo

However, some users may find this software overwhelming because of its expansive features. Its cluttered interface may also contribute to your confusion. So this software is recommended for more experienced customers.

Which Software is Used for Service Desk?

You can upgrade some help desk systems to include features that would help you meet your company's objectives. Here’s a list of the best service desk software to check out:

Freshservice

Like Jira Service Management, Freshservice is also cloud-based and designed using ITIL best practices. Because of this, you can expect high-quality services and better customer satisfaction with this software.

Freshservice product diagram

It has an intuitive and easily customizable interface to ensure that you're fulfilling your company's objectives. You can also integrate it with various applications and platforms like Dropbox and Google services.

Live Agent

Another excellent service desk for small and medium enterprises is Live Agent. It contains multiple ticketing channels such as social media integrations, live chat, and phone support. It also has added features like escalation, knowledge base, automated routing, SLA management, and analytics.

LiveAgent logo

Cost of Help Desk Software 

There's no standard yearly cost for help desk software available in the market. The pricing will depend on numerous factors, namely how many agents you have and your ticket volume. For instance, the most advanced package in Freshdesk will cost $5,940 for five agents, while Zendesk costs $12,900.

Cost of Service Desk System 

Similarly, the annual price of a service desk system also depends on the number of agents you have. Jira Service Management costs $2,250 yearly for its premium package, while Freshservice costs $6,560 for its enterprise plan.

Our Verdict: Help Desk vs. Service Desk

Help desks and service desks are two similar terms with different functions and purposes. Despite this, they are necessary to boost your company's customer satisfaction since 84% of buyers spend more with better services.

A large office of employees working at their desktops

Besides this, these services can help 50% of your employees find the appropriate information and systems quickly. They also boost productivity within the workplace based on a report by HubSpot

All in all, having a help desk and service desk will undoubtedly benefit your business. Check out the best help desk practices to learn how to make the most out of these services.

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Emma Collins

Emma runs a digital marketing agency as the Chief Content Officer while continuing to pursue her passion for writing. She loves creating guides and tutorials about technology, sales, HR, digital marketing, and more. Emma loves playing games, watching anime, and cheering for her favorite football teams during her spare time.

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