There is often confusion regarding the difference between help desk and service desk software, and for good reason. Everyday users may believe they are synonymous because, in common scenarios outside of software, these names may be used to describe the same thing. For example, if you are at Walmart and you need assistance, you might be directed to either the customer service desk or the customer help desk. Both solutions create a ticketing system that routes inquiries or issues to support agents. However, the tickets for a help desk serve an entirely different purpose than the tickets for a service desk. Help desk tickets are created by customers or end users of a product or service, while service desk software collects tickets internally from employees who create IT service requests.
While very similar in principle functionality, help desk software and service desk software have a few major distinctions that allow them to solve different business problems.
Problems Solved with Help Desk Software
Help desk solutions are entirely focused on customer service inquiries. These products provide a gateway for customers to submit issues, whether that be via email, phone, live chat, social media or a website portal. Help desks automatically create a ticket based on the customer inquiry and route the ticket to the correct customer service agent who can best solve the problem. Organization is a major benefit of help desk software, particularly compared to the alternative, which is often simply a shared email inbox. Many issues can result from a shared inbox, such as not knowing which agent is answering which inquiry, duplicate responses or customer problems getting completely lost in the shuffle. With a help desk solution, customer service teams are held accountable for their assigned tickets.
A help desk software’s organizational benefit is easily realized, according to Zendesk reviewer Matthew Wall. “We solved the classic dilemma of a growing company that had support requests going to multiple people and they would have to coordinate via chat or email who would respond to what. Looking at our first months (sic) average tickets and we are almost at 1000 split between 2 people. Now with the little eye icon we can see when someone is working on a ticket and leaving notes is nice too as it stays with the support request and not in an email somewhere.”
Michael McCormick echoed a similar sentiment when asked what business problems were solved with Freshdesk. “Customer support, knowledge base, help desk. Centralized management of customer support issues. Time savings vs on the phone support, less repeated support queries.”
These are just a few of the benefits and business problems solved by using help desk software.
Problems Solved with Service Desk Software
Service desk products, also known as IT service management (ITSM) solutions, provide employees with a ticketing system for submitting IT service requests. Serving as a single point of contact within a company, the service desk helps organize and route IT tickets to the proper IT agent. While the ticketing functionality of a service desk is similar to the way help desk software organizes customer service requests, a service desk solution goes beyond just ticket routing. The system follows a set of practices known as Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which works to sync the needs of the company with IT services. Service-level agreements (SLAs) are laid out by IT service teams to manage expectations of employees submitting requests and to hold service agents accountable. Service desks also often provide IT asset management and change management solutions.
According to Jared Hansen, a ServiceNow user, the service desk tool provides transparency into service resolutions for both managers and end users alike: “ServiceNow allows managers and staff to visualize their service tickets, problem tickets, changes and new implementation workloads. Service and Change tickets are a large portion of IT Staff workloads. This product helps IT users, supervisors and managers to see their assigned projects, changes and service tickets and notifies all interested parties when tasks or fixes are implemented.” This is very similar to the insights offered by help desk solutions to external customers but, again, solely focuses on internal employee requests.
Similarly, Wes Treadwell, a Cherwell Service Management user, noted: “We found that our Facilities department was using an old outdated intranet driven form. We set up Cherwell to handle Facilities task requests as well, and completely modernized the process. We have noticed a large increase in response time, as well as completion within SLA metrics increasing.”
Increased efficiency is a goal for nearly all kinds of software, but service desk and help desk solutions allow these goals to be easily realized by customers.