Difference Between a Help Desk and a Service Desk

March 29th, 2014 | Posted by Don Boylan in Favorite | Service Desk


I presently I manage a service delivery department my responsibilities are break fix response, and call management of recent times the industry is demanding service desk deliverables at present the the call center/help desk
does the following.
Call Logging
incident management
SLA management

They do not provide first-line support

The next step should be first-line support what approach should I use definitely there would have to upgrade there skills technically.


As I understand it, you now have a log-it-and-flog-it (log the ticket and transfer it a support group if it isn’t a super easy fix, like a password reset) Help Desk that doesn’t perform in-depth analysis (or what you define as 1st Line support). Your question is to what elements of 1st Line support you should add to your Help Desk to make it a Service Desk.

If I am correct in assessing the situation, I believe that the concept of the Service Desk is misunderstood. A Service Desk can be an organization that does nothing other than transfer tickets to the appropriate parties within the IT organization. The difference between a Help Desk and Service Desk is that users call a Help Desk when something is broken (break/fix only). They call a Service Desk for anything IT related. They need a new computer, call the Service Desk. Want to know if the systems will be available this weekend, call the Service Desk. Need a new application written, call the Service Desk. The Service Desk may be forwarding all of these requests to other parts of the IT organization (new computer->procurement, system availability->Change Manager, new app->Service Level Manager for negotiation), but that is out of the end users’ sight. All the end user knows is that they call the Service Desk and someone calls them back with their answer.

Adding the ability to move some of the 1st Level Incident Management into the Help Desk doesn’t make it a Service Desk, it just makes it better at what a Help Desk does: Address break/fix issues. To elevate it to a Service Desk, you need to have them be the single point of contact for everything IT for your organization’s user community.

You may even consider expanding their role to include telephony, fax, and copier calls (again, not just break/fix, but anything related to those technologies).

It’s not the depth to which the desk can fix things, it’s the breadth of requests they are able to successfully handled without telling the user to call another party within the organization. This is what defines it as a Service Desk.

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