The misconcepts of Service Desk: clarified

Two years ago, when I joined the IT industry as a Technical Solutions Rep at HP, I did not know the difference between a service desk, a helpdesk and a call centre. I didn’t feel I was doing much transferring documents from one system to another, resetting peoples passwords, asking customers to carry out some steps before sending it to advanced level.

One day, I received an email from someone in the team, with a link to a forum. Someone explained the difference between a service desk and a helpdesk. The forum opened my eyes. I began reading about ITIL, service desk, helpdesk etc.

After working with ticketing systems, knowledgebase and well set up processes at HP, which provided a guide for an agent and simply follow instructions, at the second job was a fearful experience. I was told, they managed all communications with clients via emails and an excel workbook. I was given a white-paper scenario and the chance to develop a system for their helpdesk.

Having the opportunity to see an organisation without proper helpdesk tools taught me the importance of call logging tools, a proper knowledgebase, clear well-outline processes, and softphone systems. As time passed and I learnt about the myriad products used to setup a company’s helpdesk, I began to see the visible differences between a helpdesk and service desk.
The call centre concept derived with the invention of phone systems – where callers were assisted via inbound and outbound calls. Call center concept became the birth of telemarketing and phone support.Telemarketing took a game changing turn with the development of marketing information systems more popularly known as CRM systems – customer relationship management. Companies found new ways to target customers with information on their CRM systems and communicate with them via call centres.
Contact centre concept gained popularity with the advancement of telecommunication technology when companies began using phone, fax, email and websites to provide a one-stop contact centre for all customers; as well as began storing these information.
The helpdesk, as the name suggests, is an end-user support for any company who wish to provide their customers pre-sales and post-sales information and service. The helpdesk concept provided customers information of a company’s products and also assistance to use them. Help was literally one call away. Helpdesk enabled companies, not only to improve sales by providing more information to the customers but also obtain feedback about their products. Helpdesk took customer service to a whole new level. Companies identified having a helpdesk support as a competitive advantage, and customer service became a priority to companies. Helpdesk empowered customers.

ITIL – a standard for IT Service Management identified these concepts and put them under one umbrella: Service Desk. We are at an era now, where almost every company big and small relies on IT. Having a website is a norm now, not just something fancy – email communications has become part of a company’s integrity. Every company now wants to excel in customer service, every company wants to identify their niche customers, every company wants to store and analyse information and use it to improve sales, expand customer base and therefore most companies turn to IT Services – in other words helpdesk support.

As a business expands, it’s requirements for IT increases. Initially companies tend to identify IT Services as a means of improved customer service, but as a business expands and more information is collected in the databases, companies are exposed to other information systems such as finance systems for managing company sales, expenses, profits, finance; human resource management systems helps a company to recruit, record employee , train and content management systems. Other company specific IT systems also are critical for the production and running of products and services.

I guess it’s pretty easy to see now, the importance of a service desk – an Industry support service without which, any company heavily relying on IT and technology will be impacted massively. While sometimes the impact can be as minor as a password reset for a user, other times the impact will be critical to the production and running of the company.


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