Service Desk vs. Help Desk: What’s the Difference?

Most of your clients and even most of your tech staffers won’t see any difference between a service desk and a help desk. In fact, many, if not all, MSPs themselves tend to not notice the difference between these concepts. However, from the processual and operational points of view, a service desk and a help desk are indeed different concepts. In this article, we define the difference between service desk and help desk and overview how you, as a managed IT provider, can make use of that knowledge in practice.

What is service help desk?

Help Desk vs. Service Desk

What is a help desk?

A help desk is an IT service that provides help and solutions related to a broad range of IT issues that may arise with clients and employees. IT help desk professionals try to solve these issues in a quick, efficient timeframe and focus on the support incidents that are easy fixes. For example, they may help people who forget their passwords to their computers and want help resetting the password.

They can support both internal employees and clients of a business. Theyre typically one part of the larger IT office that provides other services like technical support. Like service desks, their primary goal is to help the end-user, but their focus stays more on how this helps the end-user as well instead of the business. Help desks are often viewed as a subset of a service desk.

What is a service desk?

A service desk is an IT service that provides both broad IT incident support, like help desks, and support services to clients. A service desk also communicates between clients and service providers. They may sometimes respond to questions that are meant for an IT help desk, but they cover broader areas of service support than just the technical solutions that solve immediate issues. For example, they may build relationships with long-term clients with the goal of increasing profits for the business.

Service desk professionals may report on incidents to help the business improve its long-term services and help align its practices with business goals. For example, service desk professionals may have a more in-depth conversation with clients regarding issues that arose so that they can help the business be more efficient in the future. A primary goal of the service desk is to help the end-user, but their focus is more on how this helps the business.

Service desk vs. help desk

An IT service desk and an IT help desk are department names that sometimes get used interchangeably. This can be common if an IT department only has a service desk or only has a help desk. When an organization has both a service desk and help desk, there may be differences between them, including:


The purpose of a service desk and a help desk have some similarities, but there are distinct differences to be aware of. Its important to know the differences between their purposes so you can distinguish between them in an IT department. The purpose of a service desk is to communicate between the IT department and clients to make sure they resolve any issues and satisfy the client in a timely manner. Their primary focus is to streamline the services provided by the business and handle customer service for an IT office.

The purpose of a help desk is to resolve IT support incidents that are considered quick fixes. IT help desk professionals may receive tickets through submission software, which anyone working at the IT help desk can accept. When businesses dont have submission software, they may handle requests through an email or paper process, depending on the business. These incidents can be infrequent occurrences and may be moved to the service desk if they become repetitive requests.


The responsibilities of a service desk professional and a help desk professional can vary based on the type of business and what services are currently part of their IT department. The responsibilities of a service desk professional can include:

The responsibilities of a help desk employee can include:


Service desk professionals and help desk professionals can use similar tools for their daily operations, but they may use these tools in different ways or for different purposes. Tools used by service desk professionals can include:

Tools used by help desk professionals can include:


What is the difference between service desk and desktop support?

Desktop support is a more specific service. While a help desk can fix a broad range of IT issues, desktop support is dedicated to fixing only desktop or laptop issues. It can’t help with printers or networks, but it can help you install programs or get a broken computer running.

Is help desk and IT support same?

Technical support is a service that supports users of technology products or services. Technical support is also known as IT support, help desk, or service desk. In contrast to traditional training, technical support typically focuses on helping with a specific user problem or issue.

What does a service desk do?

What Does a Service Desk Do? Primarily an IT function, a service desk manages tickets, incidents and service requests, as well as user communication. Service desk professionals rely on various IT service management (ITSM) tools to get their work done.

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