What Is a Help Desk: The Benefits, Nuances, and Key Components


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Whether handling requests from employees or providing support to customers, businesses need a sophisticated platform to keep up with the demand of providing exceptional support to both internal and external end users – they need a help desk.

What Is a Help Desk?

A help desk is situated at the heart of a business’s customer support operations and acts as a one-stop point of contact to provide accurate and efficient solutions to an end user’s problems.

Help desks typically consist of a team of support staff that act on behalf of a business to provide support and service to end users in the most effective way possible. By doing so, businesses can provide end users with the exceptional service they require – whether that be to external customers or internal customers (employees).

By deploying protocols that focus on delivering end user support, businesses can reap benefits such as:

  • Driving customer and employee satisfaction
  • Delivering a level of support that matches competitors
  • Improving customer retention rates

A business’s help desk processes can also be automated, with the use of software-as-a-service tools such as Help Desk Software. By digitizing customer support operations, the tasks of a support team are streamlined and can increase the overall efficiency of a help desk.

With 90% of customers demanding an immediate response to queries, computerized help desk tools enable an effective support management process that can meet the rigorous demands of modern customer service expectations.

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Who Benefits From Using a Help Desk?

Whether taking a manual approach or opting for a web-based solution, a help desk provides businesses with an opportunity to improve their customer service and support. But, the benefits of a help desk can go much deeper and affect various types of users.

External Customers

With good customer service being a key brand differentiator above competitive pricing and product quality, businesses need to ensure that they’re providing an exceptional level of service to their customers.

Not only are businesses able to benefit from the use of a help desk, but so too are their customers. External users can take advantage of the components that make up a business’s help desk operations and use them to their advantage when in search of assistance, such as:

Multichannel Integration

With 47% of UK customers using up to five different communication channels, a business that provides a multichannel help desk system is essential. Multichannel support allows users to contact a customer service agent through their preferred choice of communication.

Multichannel support is key for a good help desk

Omnichannel Experience

As well as offering a multichannel feature, businesses can go one step further and provide customers with an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel helps to create a seamless service for customers, meaning they can raise a support ticket on one channel and carry it over to another channel without having to repeat their request.

Self-Service Portals

Acting as a single point of contact, businesses will deploy a help desk equipped with a library of common support queries and solutions. This, also known as knowledge base management, can then be accessed by customers in an attempt to find a solution to their problem without having to contact a support agent. In fact, 67% of customers prefer to use self-service portals when seeking help.

Internal Customers (Employees)

Although it might be easier to focus on the service and support that is provided to customers, businesses must also consider the problems facing their internal customers; employees.

Whereas an external help desk aims to provide support to customers, an internal one focuses on the issues of employees. With dedicated channels for prioritized staff and internal knowledge bases, an employee help desk can assist with issues such as:

  • Troubleshooting network issues
  • Password recovery
  • VPN connection trouble
  • Setting up a computer or account
  • Maintenance to software

Support Teams

Another key area that benefits from the introduction of a help desk is a business’s support team. Through reporting and analytic tools, customer service managers can improve the performance of their support agents. This allows managers to set key performance indicators and make sure service level agreements (SLAs) are being met. As well as being able to understand which agents are meeting targets and which are not.

What’s the Difference Between a Help Desk and a Service Desk?

An IT service desk covers a broader range of IT support operations and acts as a single point of contact for service providers and their end users. Whereas a help desk will focus on problem-solving, a service desk goes beyond that to manage IT incidents, requests, and communications.

ITIL, or IT Infrastructure Library, defines a service desk as “the single point of contact between the service provider and the users. A typical service desk manages incidents and service requests, and also handles communication with the users.”

Difference between help desk and service desk

Although they can be interpreted as having no significant difference between one or the other, a help desk and a service desk are seen as two varying forms of customer support processes. Defining the two variants can depend on several factors including the size of a business, the depth of a business’s support operations, and the type of customers a business serves.

What Is ITSM?

When it comes to defining the difference between support operations, it’s also important to understand the role of IT service management (ITSM). Simply put, ITSM has many core processes that encompass the entire design and delivery of a business’s IT support services. As well as providing activities that match the IT support market, ITSM also includes processes that aren’t found in basic IT support models such as:

  • Change management
  • IT asset management
  • Problem management