What is a service desk?

A service desk is the main point of contact between users and service providers. It can support users by addressing service requests, providing solutions to issues, issuing refunds, and more.

Service desks can be internal to an organization, such as an IT service desk that helps employees get set up for success, or external, where they serve customers. Regardless of who they serve, many service desks are structured in layers so issues of greater complexity and magnitude can be escalated to the appropriate individuals.

Service desk vs. help desk

When it comes to IT, service desks are often conflated with help desks. But these are two different offerings.

A help desk tends to be more tactical and reactive in nature, helping users to fix issues when they arise. The key metrics for a help desk are typically linked to the speed with which its representatives can solve issues for users. In some organizations, a help desk is a sub-offering within a service desk.

Meanwhile, a service desk tends to be more strategic, with a broad focus on delivering services to users. It’s often aligned to business goals, and performs work that helps the organization meet those goals.

These strategic traits can include:

  • SLA tracking
  • Providing self-service with an integrated service catalog
  • Full lifecycle change management
  • Problem management
  • Workforce and vendor optimization

What is the role of a service desk?

As a strategic function within a business, a service desk has a number of important functions. These include:

  • Addressing service requests from multiple stakeholders, including customers, employees, partners, and contracts. These can range from requests for new devices, to access support, and more.
  • Monitoring for IT incidents such as unplanned outages or service interruptions, and resolving them with minimal impact to the business.
  • Troubleshooting problems and facilitating solutions with the lowest possible overall cost to the business.
  • Planning changes in a way that reduces the number of service disruptions, compliance issues, and other risks to the business.
  • Providing service catalogs and self-service tools that help users resolve their issues independently.
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of the service desk and finding ways to optimize processes where possible.
  • Incorporating AI automation to reduce the burden on the service desk team and provide more effective solutions.

What is service desk software?

Service desk software is designed to facilitate the delivery of service desk offerings. This can include any technology that enables self-service functionalities for users, such as hosting tools for a knowledge base or an AI-enabled chatbot.

Software that allows for omnichannel support is also useful as it provides a singular view of a user’s interactions with the service desk team, making it easier to provide personalized service to each individual.

Service desks have become a strategic piece in how software brands show up for their customers, and there are a lot of moving parts behind them. Leveraging the elements outlined above can be a good first step in successfully deploying this feature.

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