What is a Help Desk? - Actonic – Unfolding your potential
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What is a Help Desk?

A help desk (often also called a service desk) is an integral part of IT service management (ITSM). It is the essential interface between customers, external and internal (employees), and the support team.

In the help desk, customers can articulate their problems and questions, which are then answered and solved by the team. These can mainly be technical issues (log-in disruptions) or other inquiries. The help desk not only receives customer requests, but also classifies, prioritizes, assigns and monitors them.

A help desk can be an external service, an organizational structure, a group, or even an individual. What matters is the function of receiving, routing and resolving requests along with service empathy and maintenance of communication to customers

Main tasks of a help desk

  • Receiving and processing support requests in multichannel (heterogeneous) environment
  • Providing technical support
  • Troubleshooting
  • Escalating complex issues
  • Providing guidance or training

Service Desk tiers

A help desk is organized into various tiers, each with distinct areas of responsibility and varying staffing levels.

  • First line: This is where the first contact with users takes place, usually via a ticket system such as Jira Service Management. The support staff classifies and evaluates the requests (issues) and tries to resolve them in a timely manner. If necessary, they forward the request to the next line.
  • Second line: Experienced employees with more specialized knowledge work here. They take more time for individual tickets and are the interface to the third line. In addition, they train the first level staff and create knowledge articles about frequently occurring problems.
  • Third line: This level consists of teams of experts who also take on previously unknown or complex topics. Topics may include servers, networks, or programming. The Third Line also routes tickets to dedicated support teams, such as various Vendor support teams, Software engineering (Development), Operations Management etc.

This structure enables support requests to be handled in a targeted manner and ensures that customers’ concerns are forwarded to the right experts according to their level of difficulty.

Types of help desk software

Different types of help desk software offer your business flexibility to accommodate individual requirements. Roughly, help desk software can be divided into these four categories:

  1. Web-based help desk software: A solution where companies pay a recurring fee and can use the help desk over the Internet without having to worry about technical infrastructure.
  2. On-premise help desk software: A solution where the software is installed and operated on the customer’s own server infrastructure. Provides full control over data and IT infrastructure, but requires upfront investment and maintenance.
  3. Internal Help desk Software: A software solution used internally by companies to provide support and customer service to employees. Includes features such as ticket management, knowledge base management, and asset management.
  4. Enterprise Help Desk Software: A comprehensive solution with advanced support and customer service capabilities for large organizations. Includes tools for collaboration, asset and account management, and extensive customization capabilities.

Finding the right help desk software

Today, an efficient help desk is unthinkable without software. A powerful help desk should deliver ticket management, reporting features, automations, as well as high-level customizability. With advanced features, Jira Service Management (JSM) makes it easier for help desk staff to handle customer requests and provide effective solutions.

Want to know how to create meaningful reports on your help desk’s performance? Then discover our article: Successful Jira Service Management Reporting with Examples, or get advice from our consulting team.

What is the difference between a help desk and a service desk?

Many use help desk and service desk as synonyms. But the terms should be distinguished.

Main differences

Difference Help desk Service desk
Focus IT support and problems

  • User centered
Broader range of service requests and processes

  • Enterprise-centric
Type Tactical strategic
Scope Mainly IT-related Company-wide, beyond IT
Tasks Process individual requests Managing service requests and processes
Tools and functions Ticket systems, support tools Service catalogs, self-service portals, automation of service processes
Process management Focus on problem-solving Management of service processes and requests


A detailed overview of the specific tasks within a service desk can be found here: What is a service desk?


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