Help Desk Software vs Service Desk Software

Help Desk Software vs Service Desk Software

Agents using Service Desk SoftwareIt is common today to see similar applications referred to as help desk software or service desk software. A Google search for either term will often bring up the same products.

So what’s the difference?

In terms of the application itself, you probably won’t see much difference between help desk software and service desk software. But there is an important distinction to be made nonetheless. The answer lies in ITIL.

Evolution of Help Desk Software

As ITIL matured, the concept of ‘the help desk’ began to outgrow its basic purpose of providing IT support to users. The life cycle of a simple ticket (be it an ‘incident’ or a ‘request’) is more complex, and it draws on the expertise of the entire function in some cases. Your team may be asked to carry out all kinds of tasks which would ordinarily be outside the scope of traditional help desk software. This is where the concept of a service desk and service desk software comes into play.

The ITIL definition of a service desk is simply this: a single point of contact (SPOC) for end users who need help. Notice that it doesn’t tell you what kind of help they might need. ITIL splits the service desk into four distinct types: a call center, an unskilled service desk (basically a call logging team), a skilled service desk and an expert service desk. The latter is more closely aligned with the traditional notion of an IT help desk with second or third line staff.

Service Desk Software for the Help Desk

Service desk software allows the team to act as a SPOC, and this is the distinction between help desk applications and service desk software. Service desk programs must allow the team to deal with incidents and requests, log problems and Requests for Change, report on Key Performance Indicators or other baselines, communicate with customers about progress of anything (a ticket, a release or a change)… the scope of a service desk application is therefore far broader.

Running a service desk should result in a more joined-up approach to customer support, and a more satisfactory result for your stakeholders. Service desks should run more efficiently than help desks when properly integrated with the wider IT function, particularly compared to a scenario where teams are less integrated and don’t share a common software platform for reporting, monitoring and tracking their work.

Service Desk Software or Help Desk Software?

The distinction between these two types of customer support software is admittedly very subtle, particularly for teams working outside of the ITIL framework. In practice, many help desk applications will include the features you need to run a service desk, but it’s always best to verify this. There’s little point in investing in basic customer service software or help desk software if the adoption of ITIL will force you to buy another package in the longer term.