What is an IT service desk? (With features and benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An IT service desk is where IT professionals provide support for mobile systems, software and hardware that customers purchase. You can find an IT service desk in a business alongside call centre staff. Working an IT service desk involves customer service and many of the same skills and functions as other customer service roles apply. In this article we answer the question ‘What is an IT service desk?' and talk about its many benefits, some of the software options that aid it and what makes it worth the cost.

What is an IT service desk?

To understand 'What is an IT service desk?', you can think of it as an IT support desk where customers go for technical support for software, software-as-a-service and technological devices they have purchased. Examples include design or project management software, smartwatches, tablets, televisions and cameras. Companies typically offer services through phone calls, emails or online chat. They also provide diagnostic services for computers, smartphones, printers, routers and remote access devices. An IT desk also directs the customer to repair options as necessary and offers self-service options to assist them.

People sometimes refer to a service help desk as the technical support division of a company. It services customers in a friendly and accommodating manner. A company frequently gives the service desk representative a set of steps to follow with the customer to resolve issues.

Related: IT skills: definitions and examples

How does an IT service desk work?

The IT service desk is the point of contact between the customer and an organisation. Help desk service specialists work with clients to provide help in operating the company's systems at their fullest capacity. The requests range from simple problems like a computer running slower than usual or an inability to log in to questions about operating features and complex situations that require repair.

The IT helpdesk service is a team that provides professional support services in some form, sometimes for 24 hours a day and seven days a week. If it's not a continual service, they still tend to work outside of normal business hours to ensure that customers have access to information about their services and equipment and to solve related problems. Some of the most important steps in the process are:

  • Incident management protocols: Each tech support agent receives incident management protocols from the company. These protocols aim to reduce the time taken to manage an incident and help with the communication and accuracy of information delivered to customers.

  • Determining the issue: The representative first checks that there are no system outages that could affect the customer. Then the IT desk asks the customer numbered questions about how the product is performing.

  • Solving the issue: At the point in the numbered questions where a customer answers negatively, the representative offers a solution. For example, if the customer answers negatively to certain cables being connected to the device, the representative suggests the customer connect them.

  • Testing the issue: One of the most important steps is to make sure you have resolved the issue. For the previous example, if the customer connects the cables, the representative would then confirm with them that the issue is no longer present.

  • Referring the issue for repair: If the issue still presents after testing, the desk might suggest customer self-service repair options, if the customer is willing or explain to the customer how they can obtain the repair.

  • Defining a timeline for resolving issues: If a technician comes to the customer's office or home to repair the device or if the customer ships the device for repair, the agent gives a timeline for the arrival of the technician or a turnaround time for the device being sent back to the customer.

Related: How to become a systems analyst (with helpful tips)

The benefits of an IT service desk

The benefits of an IT service desk that an organisation can gain include:

  • Support for clients and customers: This gives them the full benefits of the technology.

  • Reduced loss of customers: They're less likely to give up out of frustration when seeking to operate equipment or software that has a high learning curve.

  • Reduced cost of labour: Technicians are costly, but companies can resolve popular issues remotely.

  • Providing effective solutions: These apply to complex issues and have clear turnaround times.

  • Boosted productivity: It allows the users to receive support on different platforms without having long wait times when calling the IT desk.

Help desk service features

IT service desks come with a number of features to enhance the customer experience:

IT self-service tools

Many technological companies anticipate users becoming savvier with time, so they offer self-service tools that provide users with the ability to manage their IT services, like server connections, without having to contact IT. Self-service tools present preventive maintenance tasks on a centralized dashboard and allow users to perform maintenance tasks themselves.

These tools allow you to identify your needs before they become an issue. They ensure both shorter service calls and fewer costs to the company by reducing some of the technical support calls. A self-service tool can also be helpful by handling administrative tasks, such as creating tickets.

Service desk tools improve the service experience

When the IT industry was still new, tech support via chat was not yet popular. Customers had to endure long wait times by phone to reach customer service and did not always have their issues resolved. Although service desks have been around for years, they're now gaining traction because of their ease of use, providing technical services through chat or email that's usually answered rapidly. Support desks also provide knowledge-based articles and videos to answer common questions.

IT desks increase engagement with customers

An IT service desk allows the company to communicate with customers over chat, email or phone not just to solve their problems but to educate customers about the benefits of a product, service or software-as-a-service. Most companies choose chat as a primary method of communication because it suits any platform from mobile devices to desktop computers and there are usually fast response times. Organisations can gather data about how customers use their products and the issues they face. They also easily note resolution times and satisfaction rates.

Related: What does the IT department do and what are IT roles?

IT service desk gives detailed reporting for analytics

Detailed reporting and analytics leverage artificial and business intelligence to provide detailed reports and analytics in real-time, such as the following:

  • real-time reporting of the types and numbers of issues and incidents that are resolved

  • attribute reporting on multiple dimensions such as customers, devices and applications

  • data visualisation using charts and graphs for managers and stakeholders

  • automated email notifications based on changes in trends

What makes an IT service desk a key performer?

The IT service desk has its costs in the form of labour and the assembly of processes, videos and other educational materials. Features that make it a key performer for a company are:

  • Availability: Many support platforms are available 24/7, providing immediate access to help customers from anywhere in the world.

  • Centralisation: There's an inherent benefit of having a centralised service, as it consolidates the IT support services into one point of contact for all devices and systems offered by the company. This makes it convenient for customers who purchase more than one form of technology from a company.

  • Cost reduction: The cost of an IT help desk is less than the hardware and labour expenses of sending a technician who might replace the equipment. Replacing equipment unnecessarily incurs further expense, which is usually passed on to the customer in the form of higher rates or costs.

  • Customer satisfaction: Service desks reduce the number of technicians visiting customers, who might come to believe there's an inherent fault in the product or SaaS and choose another provider that can give remote technical support.

  • Ease: Helpdesk management systems save time and make a customer's remote visit to the helpdesk easy and pleasant.

  • Efficiency: Service desk tools can manage high volumes of customer requests without long wait times.

Related: How to write a help desk CV (with a template and an example)

Software tools for managing your IT service desk

IT service desks have become more agile and efficient through the use of call centre software. This helps organisations provide a better customer experience and manage all types of technical issues. Customer care software provides a wide range of features, including handling complaints and calls on behalf of an organisation, scheduling appointments, providing access to product documentation and offering help with product installations. There are many software tools besides those for customer service that can help service desk staff automate their work and make their IT operations more efficient. Below are tools that you can use alongside your main software:

Software management solutions

Software management solutions are tools that help companies, brands and businesses manage their software assets. These solutions can help enterprises to manage licenses, update software and patch software for customers to have the latest versions. They provide the necessary tools for managing applications remotely without having to go through complex steps like logging into servers or accessing command-line interface commands.

Server management solutions

Servers are the backbone of any company's business. With the growing demand for hosting cloud-based apps, it's becoming more important to manage these servers properly. This is where server management solutions come in handy. These tools provide better management and scalability to ensure that servers deliver their maximum performance to customers.

Explore more articles