What Is a Help Desk & What Does a Help Desk Do?

Last Updated:Wednesday, January 24, 2024

When it comes to customer service, and especially IT support, a lot of you are probably asking yourselves, what is a help desk and what does a help desk do? This article will list most of the tools that help desks offer and then go over the advantages of using the best help desk system.


What is a help desk? Our definition

First, let’s talk about the help desk definition. One good place to go for a comprehensive explanation of the help desk meaning is the ITIL or the information technology infrastructure library. 

This source will help you understand the difference between a help desk vs service desk, the latter of which is more robust, as well as the difference between a more comprehensive ITSM, or IT service management system.

But to be brief here, the meaning of a help desk is a point of contact between support staff and end users where issues or problems can be logged, tracked, and resolved.


What does a help desk do?

So, what is help desk support and what does it do? It provides a unified omnichannel dashboard whereby users can ask for support via several or all channels of communication. 

Help desk also lets users track the status of their support issues or offers users some resources to try and help themselves before escalating their problem into a support ticket.

What does help desk support do?

Enough about the software; what about the people? In other words, what is the help desk staff's role in using software or as part of an IT customer service team? 

Help desk support staff are there to communicate with customers, create support tickets, decide where they will go and what priority they have, and work together with customers to think through some of the thornier support issues that basic break-fix solutions are not capable of handling. 

Help desk functions and features list

It is now time to unpack the help desk features list. 

The service desk and help desk tools listed here are the most important ones, but the list is in no way exhaustive. Some help desk apps have huge feature lists, and some contain just a small amount of the core tools. 

  • Single point of contact

  • Ticketing system

  • Service level agreements

  • Support team collaboration

  • Customer relationship management

  • Asset management

  • CSAT feedback

  • Self-service portal

  • Workflows and automation

  • Analytics and reporting

Single point of contact

The most important aspect of service desk or help desk software is providing your customers with a single point of contact. 

This means that no matter how they would like to reach out for customer support, all their communication will reach technical support. The support team can use an omnichannel dashboard to reply to all customer queries no matter the source, be they phone calls, email, chat, social media, SMS text messaging, or a web form. 

One advantage of a unified user interface serving as the SPoC in a help desk system is that it can offer end users support in real-time, as well as being a single platform from which IT support teams will get notifications for follow-ups and other task reminders.  

Ticketing system

Help desk and service desk apps are also mainly about being a ticketing system. In the world of IT service, tickets are customer support issues that have been officially logged or registered with the help desk team through the app. 

So, what is ticketing? Ticket management lets IT teams see all open issues, route tickets to the best-suited support rep, prioritize open tickets, and manage the escalation of tickets from simpler break-fix problems to more significant service desk issues. 

Good help desk ticketing platforms can often allow help desk agents to instantly create support tickets directly from customer questions and other communications with end users. If pricing is an issue for your business, you can choose an open source ticketing system that is free or very affordable.

Service level agreements

SLAs, or service level agreements, are one of the key features of a help desk solution and all IT service management. 

SLA is an agreement between an end user who might be a stakeholder, a customer or client, or even a member of management, on the one hand, and the customer support department or help desk IT specialist handling the service request on the other hand.

An SLA will usually lay out the details of the support request and a timeframe for when the issue will be resolved. 

Support team collaboration

Help desk management is also about overseeing and facilitating the work of help desk teams. 

Often, many individual service desk or help desk specialists will take on issues or tickets, but there are times when team communication and team collaboration is needed. The best help desk software offers internal communication for team members, messaging, notes, file sharing, and document management as well. 

There are often tools that let representatives work together or streamline the handing over from one rep to another based on specialization or escalation.

Customer relationship management

CRM, or customer relationship management software, is its own standalone app. Optimizing help desk support centers with some core CRM features is not uncommon. 

This lets customer service reps see the most useful details about every customer reaching out, as well as if such a customer had past issues, how they were resolved and by which rep. It makes it easy to communicate with end users based on their preferred channel. 

Overall, maintaining a good CRM database can make things more efficient for reps and help boost customer satisfaction with more personalized service.

Asset management

IT departments need to take stock of a lot of different assets. The most common assets include hardware, software, network infrastructure, as well as laptops, mobile devices, and even personnel. 

The right help desk software should have a solid asset management module to keep track of all these things and ensure they are well-maintained or updated in the case of software. 

There might also be some process management, which is more common with service desks than help desks and helps maintain how all one’s IT assets are connected.

CSAT feedback

Getting feedback is a crucial element of keeping your help desk team motivated and rooting out problematic reps or processes.

CSAT is a measure of customer satisfaction regarding their service experience. It generally takes the form of the question: How happy are you with the customer service you received? 

Help desk apps often come with a feedback tool that automatically sends out CSAT surveys, gathers the answers, and creates valuable reports based on the results.

Self-service portal

Another big part of any help desk software solution is offering self-service to your customers and end users. 

This means they have access to a range of resources by which they can try and resolve the issues themselves without needing to go through the lengthy process of contacting a support rep and creating tickets. 

A self-service portal should contain a knowledge base or FAQ, especially when users can input their customer queries using natural language or at least with a powerful search module. There can also be how-to articles, video tutorials, and forums in which users can help one another with common questions or issues.

Workflows and automation

Automation is the name of the game in almost all business-optimization SaaS, and help desk systems are no different. Automation also makes work easier on your IT support staff as they will have fewer dull tasks to do and can therefore focus on helping end users with more complicated problems.

The best help desk software will often come with many pre-built workflow scripts, as well as a simple workflow builder using when-then logic and drag-and-drop functionality. Common help desk automations can be applied to ticket creation, ticket routing, data entry, follow-up notifications, SLA reminders, or the automatic creation of regular reporting. 

Analytics and reporting

Just as is the case with workflows and automation, data analytics and reporting are more essential features of business software solutions. Your help desk and service desk team will generate loads of data simply by communicating with users, managing the ticketing system, updating the knowledge bases, and gauging customer satisfaction through feedback tools. 

Helpdesk apps can take that data and analyze it for a number of useful metrics, like peaks in customer support requests, average resolution time, average first-contact resolutions, individual support rep performance, and so many more metrics. 

Then, you can set up custom reports with your key metrics and have them automatically generated and shared with all the important stakeholders.

Help desk benefits

Now that we’ve gone over the tool and feature list of the best help desk platforms let us quickly summarize the benefits and advantages you get when you use such a software system.

  • Happier customer experience

  • Optimized work efficiency

  • Cut down on costs

  • Better brand reputation

Happier customer experience

Since we’re talking about customer service, a better customer experience, and higher CSAT levels are clearly the most significant benefit of using help desk SaaS. 

Customers enjoy the ability to reach out whenever they want using whatever communication channel they prefer, and they also benefit from faster response times. 

Finally, a good self-service portal with a thorough knowledge base adds more to the customer experience to get their problem resolved with minimal effort.

Optimized work efficiency

Using a ticketing system combined with automation truly streamlines the entire support process from initial customer service request through triage, support, and final resolution. 

What’s more, an advantage to help desk systems is that the software is constantly using past performance data to regularly improve your work processes and help plan for future developments.

Cut down on costs

When you combine great IT support software with a good customer service team, you will find you require fewer employees working at the same time, saving you money on wages. What’s more, help desk systems can recognize repeated issues and group them and resolve them together, saving more money, as well as helping to prevent future unnecessary support problems.

Better brand reputation

These days, most brands are judged based on their post-sales service as much as on their pre-sale service. 

If you implement great help desk software and it results in gaining a reputation for being amazing at customer support, that will contribute to positive buzz and help earn new customers or clients. 


Has our help desk description helped?

We truly hope you feel much more enlightened when it comes to what a help desk is and how it can benefit your operations.

If you are in the market for some of the best help desk software for small business, you should not hesitate to delve deeper into the research and compare the leading help desk solution brands out there, paying close attention to features, ease of use, and pricing.



What is an IT help desk, is it different from a regular help desk?

A help desk can be an umbrella term for all customer service systems for any kind of company or industry, and they can be either physical locations or software solutions. An IT help desk is a help desk that deals with technical support issues dealing with hardware, software, or networks.

What does an IT help desk do that is different?

An IT help desk creates a point of contact between end users and IT support specialists. It facilitates the creation of IT support tickets and streamlines the process of ticket resolution. IT help desks are different from regular help desks because of their focus on information technology issues.