Help Desk vs. Service Desk – What’s the Difference? [Infographics]

Last Updated: April 23, 2023

Help desk and service desk are two terms that are often used interchangeably in the IT support world. While they do have similarities, they have many different functionalities. 

The size, needs, and maturity of your organization will help you determine which solution you should pick.

What is a Help Desk?

A help desk aids you in ticket management, organization of incoming issues, and also in evenly distributing the workload. It provides service level agreements (SLAs), incident tracking, problem management and resolution, and self-service options for its end users. It has a break-fix approach to customer service and results in transparent, collaborative, and efficient ticket resolution.

What is a Service Desk?

A service desk is the single point of contact that rallies communications between customers and the service provider. It is based on the ITSM (IT Service Management) framework and looks at the complete business needs and not just problem resolution. In addition to incident management and service requests, it also includes features like internal and external knowledge management, self-service, IT asset management, and reporting.

How is ITSM different from Help Desks & Service Desks

ITSM or IT Service Management is a framework that encompasses all activities that are involved in the entire lifecycle of IT services. The core idea behind it is that IT should be delivered as a service.

Difference between a help desk and a service desk

Apart from the fact that service desk tools have to abide by the policies, practices, and procedures set by the ITSM, there are four major areas in which they differ from helpdesks. 

They have different functionalities

The main focus of a help desk is to provide point solutions to end-users or customers in a fast manner. Whereas, a service desk is engaged in delivering a customer-centric service to their users. Service desks are integrated with other ITSM processes, while help desks are primarily issue tracking and resolution systems.  

They provide support for different groups

While a help desk is built to address the needs of its IT team and customers, a service desk gives support to better business processes and also the entire service lifecycle — customers, clients, stakeholders, and employees. 

They work along with different timelines

A help desk’s approach is reactive. It resolves short-term concerns through efficient collaboration. A service desk functions proactively and deals with long-term concerns. This means that they focus on both organizational optimization and problem resolution.

They handle varying types of queries

Help desks usually solve queries that include product-specific, IT, software, and hardware-related issues. They mainly focus on inbox management, SLA management, and omnichannel ticketing. On the other hand, service desks handle administrative, change management, problem management, and incident management, and security-related queries. They also provide security measures, asset management, automation, and internal knowledge management. 

Popular Help Desk Software

Zendesk Support Suite: Zendesk’s help desk software helps you provide omnichannel support while keeping all communication between agents and customers organized in one place. 

HappyFox Help Desk: Provide a stellar customer experience with HappyFox’s flexible, intuitive, and easy-to-use ticketing system, equipped with features like reporting, automation, AI smart rules, escalations, and canned actions. 

Zoho Desk: Zoho’s flexible customer management system provides your customers solutions to their issues with features like omnichannel support and knowledge base management. 

Freshdesk: Freshdesk’s cloud-based IT help desk provides omnichannel support with additional features like predictive support capabilities, SLA, and workflow management. 

HelpDesk: This is an online ticketing system that can provide support for small-medium businesses and enterprise clients. You can organize incoming tickets to improve agent productivity. 

Popular Service Desk Software

HubSpot Service Hub: You can leverage their service desk capabilities and intuitive interface to help your marketing, sales, and support teams collaborate to provide an effective customer experience.

Jira Service Desk: You can use Jira’s IT service desk that is geared towards development-focused teams to manage ITIL-certified processes at affordable prices.  

AzureDesk: With its enterprise-level service desk solution, AzureDesk offers capabilities like SLA management, a self-service portal, and workflow management. 

Freshservice: This is an online ITSM solution whose functionalities include troubleshooting, knowledge base management, and asset management.

Salesforce Service Cloud: The core functionalities of this service desk software tool include tracking and solving customer issues and powerful integrations with the rest of the Salesforce suite.

The difference between service desk vs. help desk vs. ITSM is another confusing theme.  ITSM or IT Service Management is a framework that encompasses all activities that are involved in designing, creating, delivering, and supporting the entire lifecycle of IT services. It doesn’t just deal with IT support, it is also responsible for the end-to-end management of these services. The core idea behind ITSM is that IT should be delivered as a service.


Both service desk software solutions and help desk solutions provide companies essential support frameworks. Help desks provide almost immediate support to resolve urgent and important issues while a service desk helps companies to put effective business practices in place in addition to issue resolution. HappyFox Help Desk gives you a service delivery setup that can run several service desk operations. Book a one-on-one demo with our product specialists to know about our integrated solution.