What is a Service Desk?

A service desk is software that serves as a centralized point of contact for end-users to connect with support functions, allowing them to report incidents and submit service requests (routine requests such as onboarding a new employee or acquiring a new laptop). In addition to addressing incidents and service requests, service desks take a broad and user-focused approach to service delivery. They aim to integrate business processes into the service management infrastructure to better support the needs of end-users. In addition to IT, they are primarily used by business teams like HR, finance, facilities, and legal, which use a service catalog to provide user services to the organization. Service desks are an integral part of improving the employee experience of an organization, as they focus on delivering employee services in a streamlined and timely manner.

What is an IT Service Desk?

An IT service desk is a centralized hub where organizations provide IT support services to their employees or customers. The IT service desk is responsible for handling and resolving IT-related issues, such as hardware and software problems, network connectivity, security, and other technical difficulties. The goal of the IT service desk is to ensure that all IT services are delivered efficiently and effectively while minimizing downtime and disruptions. The IT service desk may use a variety of tools and technologies, including ticketing systems, remote access software, AI-powered virtual agents, workflow automation, and knowledge management databases to provide timely and accurate solutions to IT issues.

IT Service Desk vs. IT Helpdesk: What’s the difference?

A help desk and a service desk are very similar, yet very different. There are instances when the two have been used interchangeably, which causes a great deal of confusion. So how are the two different?

As the name suggests, a help desk aims to help you when you have an issue and restore normalcy. Users rely on help desks to assist them with issues such as troubleshooting the printer or setting up a new system. The help desk is mostly reactive which receives issues from end users and provides resolution. A help desk offers “help” or “break-fix” support, while a service desk assists with break-fix support and service requests. The service desk is responsible for the entire IT support and services which includes service request management, change management, and asset management. The service desk follows a holistic approach to align business and IT vision. Service desks can be setup to proactively avoid any incidents from occurring. Simply put, a service desk is an extension of a helpdesk with an exhaustive set of functionalities and aims for service excellence.

Help Desk IT Service Desk
Offers “help” or “break-fix” support Emphasis is more on a service lifecycle approach to ITSM
Is a component of the service desk, most concerned with end-user functionality and providing incident management to ensure issues are resolved quickly. Extends the help desk by providing a way to accomplish problem, change, configuration, knowledge, and release management, in addition to incident management.
Usually includes a ticketing system which focuses on resolution of the incident They have a goal - continuous improvement of services, to increase efficiency and reduce cost (CSI), by assessing current processes and trends.

Benefits of an IT Service Desk

In the modern era, technology is essential for most businesses. From communication and data management to marketing and sales, technology plays a crucial role in the daily operations of a business. With the increasing complexity of technology, IT support is essential to ensure that the business can continue to operate smoothly. An IT service desk is a critical component of any modern business, providing a central point of contact for employees or customers to report IT-related issues. Let’s look at the benefits of an IT service desk and its impact on businesses in detail.

Centralized point of contact

Whether an employee is experiencing hardware problems, software issues, or network connectivity problems, they can contact the IT service desk for assistance. This centralization ensures that all IT issues are recorded and tracked, allowing the IT staff to monitor the status of each issue, prioritize them, and respond accordingly. Additionally, the IT service desk provides consistent support, ensuring that each issue follows a standard operating procedure, regardless of the person reporting the issue.

Reduced downtime

When a business experiences an IT-related issue, such as a system outage or data loss, downtime can have a significant impact on productivity and profitability. An IT service desk can help to reduce downtime by providing timely and efficient support. When an issue is reported, the IT staff can quickly assess the problem, determine the root cause, and work to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. This approach minimizes the amount of time that the system is offline, reducing the impact on the business and maintaining productivity levels. In addition, scheduled maintenance activities can also cause downtime. These unavoidable disruptions can be notified well ahead of time, using the change management features in an IT service desk.

Enhanced employee experience

Another significant benefit of an IT service desk is that it can greatly improve your employee experience. IT-related issues can be frustrating and tedious for your employees. They are also expensive to the business. However, your IT service desk agents can quickly respond to issues, and provide updates on the status of the issue. This helps resolve the problem in a timely and efficient manner. This level of support can help reduce frustration and ensure that your employees feel supported and cared for by the business. All in all, an IT service desk can go a long way in improving employee experience by providing a high level of customer service.

Improved productivity

In addition to improving the employee experience, an IT service desk can also increase productivity. When employees experience IT issues, it can disrupt their workflow, causing delays and reduced productivity levels. However, an IT service desk can help your agents quickly resolve issues, and minimize the disruption to the employee's workday. Additionally, your IT agents can proactively identify potential issues before they become major problems, helping prevent downtime and maintain consistently higher productivity levels.

Data-driven insights

One of the biggest benefits of an IT service desk is that it can provide valuable data and help decision-makers arrive at data-led insights. An IT service desk can track all IT-related issues, including the number of issues reported, the types of issues reported, and the response times. This data can provide valuable insights into the overall health of the IT infrastructure, helping the business to identify areas for improvement and potential areas of risk. Additionally, the data can help to identify trends in support requests, enabling your IT agents to proactively address common issues and reduce the number of reported issues over time.

Self-service adoption

The ability to provide self-service options is another significant benefit of an IT service desk. Self-service options can include knowledge bases, tutorials, and troubleshooting guides, enabling users to solve common issues on their own, without the need for IT staff intervention. This approach can reduce the workload on the IT service desk, freeing up staff to focus on more complex issues. Additionally, self-service options are available 24/7, ensuring that users can access support at any time, increasing overall user satisfaction. Most IT service desks in the market today offer AI-powered virtual agents that take self-service to a whole another level. They use natural language processing and machine learning to train bots that pick up keywords from the user’s query/issue, and suggest relevant knowledge base articles that guide the users to resolve the issues on their own. This level of support helps deflect a large number of L1 tickets, thus freeing up your IT staff’s time to let them work on more pressing issues. This way, IT service desks can help improve agent productivity.

How to Choose an IT Service Desk Software?

Choosing the right IT service desk software is a critical decision for any business. With so many options available in the market, selecting the right IT service desk for your business can be a challenging task. To make that process easy, here are some factors to consider when choosing an IT service desk software:

Cloud vs On-prem

The first step is to evaluate the IT service desk's operational nature. Most legacy IT service desks are on-premise solutions that demand massive maintenance costs. From infrastructure costs to deployment, hiring developers and architects to customize and maintain the service desk, legacy tools are an expensive affair for enterprises in this digital-first economy. This is why it’s better to opt for cloud-based SaaS IT service desks that are modern, scalable, and relatively low on the total cost of ownership. 

Features & Capabilities

Most IT service desks provide features based on the ITIL framework. Ensure that the IT service desk offers core ITIL capabilities like incident, problem, change, and release management. Additionally, it should provide features like ticket management, automation, reporting, self-service options, and multi-channel support. IT service desks that offer ticketing and analytics capabilities powered by AI & ML are a step ahead and will save you precious man-hours. But it’s easy to get carried away by a fully loaded list of features. This might make you end up paying more than what you would require. To avoid this, take stock of your existing IT ecosystem and make sure the service desk has the capabilities that benefit your team and are well-aligned with your business goals.

Ease of use

IT service desks should be user-friendly and easy to navigate. Complicated service desks only make the user experience frustrating, thereby affecting the productivity of your IT team. The interface should be intuitive, allowing users to quickly access the features they need. Look for IT service desks that offer customizable dashboards and service catalogs, making it easy to access critical information and manage support requests.


The IT service desk should integrate with other tools and software used by your business. Look for integrations with tools like email clients, project management software, network monitoring and alert management tools, discovery probes, remote access tools, and collaboration tools. This will help to streamline workflows and ensure that the IT service desk software works seamlessly with other tools used by your business.


Choose software that allows for customization. The ability to customize the interface, workflows, and automated responses can help to ensure that the software meets your business's specific needs, and ends up saving a lot of time and money for your business.


With strict data protection regulations in place worldwide, IT service desk software should have robust security features to protect sensitive user data. Look for features like two-factor authentication, encryption, and data backups. Additionally, the software should comply with industry standards and local regulations.


Look for IT service desk software that offers comprehensive support. This should include access to a knowledge base, documentation, and support from the software vendor. Additionally, look for software that offers training resources and ongoing support to ensure that your team is equipped to use the software effectively. More often than not, it’s worth opting for premium support, provided you have the budget for it.


Consider the pricing model and ensure that it aligns with your budget. Some IT service desk software vendors do not provide transparent pricing. Make sure you have all your requirements charted out before approaching shortlisting such vendors. You shouldn’t be paying for features your team would never use. On the contrary, some IT service desk vendors do offer transparent pricing plans that bundle features together accordingly. Some charge per user, while others charge a flat fee. Most cloud-based SaaS IT service desk vendors offer free trials, allowing you to test the software before committing to a purchase.


Always choose IT service desks that can scale your business. As your business grows, the service desk should be able to accommodate an increased volume of support requests and users. Look for software vendors that offer flexible pricing and features, allowing you to add or remove features and agents as needed.

Why is Freshservice the right IT Service Desk for your business?

Freshservice is a cloud-native IT service desk software developed by Freshworks. Its intelligent ticketing capabilities and multi-channel support help modernize your service management. Freshservice leverages the power of AI to create contextual and intelligent ticketing experiences, resulting in improving the efficiency of issue resolution processes. With its extensive integration capabilities and workflows that span across the enterprise, Freshservice builds upon an open platform and marketplace equipped with APIs for further extension and customization. It also provides a robust and fully-customizable service catalog that helps streamline your employee service management process. Enterprises that utilize Freshservice can expect an improved return on investment, efficiency, and overall effectiveness.

Trusted by over 20,000 organizations, including renowned entities like NHS and Veeva, Freshservice is the go-to service management solution for IT support and various business teams such as HR, legal, and finance. Beneath its intuitive user interface lies a robust system that effectively manages services and assets. The solution's powerful automation capabilities enable teams to automate repetitive tasks and workflows, allowing agents to focus on critical matters. Additionally, the user-friendly service catalog facilitates the adoption of self-service among customers.

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