Help Desk: Functions, Benefits, Features and Software (2024)

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So, you’re thinking about a help desk. You’ve researched, but you still have questions. What exactly is a help desk? How does it differ from a service desk? Does your company need one—and, if so, why? And what are the best practices the most successful help desks follow? We asked our experts and here’s what they said.

Defining “help desk”

A help desk is the first point of contact for customers and employees alike. Customers need answers and the help desk is where they turn.

When employees need someone to troubleshoot a printer, upgrade security on a laptop, or give them access to a new system, it’s the help desk to the rescue. When customers can’t get into their systems, need help with setup, or encounter a bug, it’s the help desk that typically gets a call.

Help desk vs. service desk: what’s the difference?

Often, people use the terms help desk and service desk interchangeably, but the truth is that they both serve different, important purposes.

A help desk was born of IT-centricity (mainframe computing), whereas a service desk was born of IT service-centricity. The main focus of a help desk is fixing issues, a service desk’s main focus is delivering service to its customers or users. There’s a certain emphasis on service delivery and customer-centricity in service desks that’s less of a focal point in help desks.

A help desk can be a good starting point for organizations looking to organize their approach to addressing customer problems.

Help desk functions

A help desk should perform several functions:

  • Provide a single point of contact. Customers—internal or external—should always know where to go when they need help.
  • Answer questions. Customers should be able to use self-service or contact a help desk agent when they need answers or step-by-step instructions.
  • Free up time. A well-run help desk centralizes knowledge and provides workflow guidance that makes solving customer problems quicker and easier.
  • Measure customer satisfaction. Customers should always have a way of rating the help desk and giving feedback to improve processes, knowledge bases, and solutions.

Types of help desks

IT support help desk

An IT help desk supports internal staff, solving problems that range from a simple password reset to a network outage.

Customer service help desk

A customer service help desk focuses on the external customer, answering questions about and helping troubleshoot issues with products and services they’ve purchased.

Business help desk

Teams outside IT (such as HR, finance, and legal) can and sometimes do create and run a business help desk. HR can help employees do things like modify payroll elections or get employment verification letters. Legal can respond to contract review requests. And finance can field accounts payable and expense questions.

Help desk roles

Help desk manager: A help desk manager leads the day-to-day operations of the help desk. This includes hiring and training agents, structuring support processes, and tracking KPIs such as agent productivity and customer satisfaction. A help desk manager will typically be responsible for managing the overall budget and reporting on performance to the executive team.

Help desk agent: A help desk agent responds directly to help desk questions. This can include everything from hardware issues to password reset requests and inquiries may come in by phone, email, or through a help desk portal.

Help desk agents are also often responsible for updating the company’s knowledge base and looking for ways to coach others and spread their technical expertise. Depending on the size of the company, there may be several tiers of agents, split based on support experience.

Help desk team lead: The help desk team lead supports the help desk manager by coaching new agents and ensuring everyone delivers great customer service and meets their Service Level Agreement (SLA) goals. A team lead also monitors performance and provides feedback to managers for improving support processes.

What is help desk software?

So, how do most companies run their help desks? The answer is help desk software, like Jira Service Management.

When businesses start out, they often rely on email for support. But as companies grow, moving beyond email as the primary support channel becomes critical. Support needs to scale with a business. If agents are struggling to keep up with requests and inboxes are stacked with unanswered emails—it’s definitely time for help desk software.

Help desk software allows companies to accept, track, and respond to support requests in an organized fashion. Many help desk programs also provide knowledge bases, self-service portals, SLO management, and reporting. Choosing the right help desk software for you depends on your company’s specific needs.

4 reasons your company needs help desk software

1. Email is a lousy tracking tool.

If every help request becomes a string of emails, agents may struggle to prioritize and respond to each request. Move the conversation away from inboxes to better organize your help desk queues.

2. Customers want to help themselves.

For many companies, help desk software also offers a simple way to organize an FAQ or knowledge base that lets customers self-serve common questions.

3. Prioritize important tickets.

Forget calendar reminders, sticky notes, and email. Help desk software lets you define not only ticket order, but priority levels and resolution time requirements.

4. Monitor the health of support.

Help desk software can track metrics like ticket volume, resolution time, customer satisfaction, and even individual engineer performance.

Popular help desk software features

Email support

Send support emails to a designated address such Those emails will then be automatically converted into tickets so agents can benefit from a structured ticketing workflow.

Knowledge base

A knowledge base is a store of common answers and useful articles such as how-tos or best practices. It providesa self-service experience that can improve customer satisfaction and reduce support requests.

Self-service portal

The self-service portal is an intuitive place to submit questions in the form of help desk tickets or get immediate answers via the knowledge base.

Community forums

Forums are aplace for users to ask questions and have them answered by the community.

Reporting and analytics

Help desk software reporting features allow companies to track key metrics such as agent productivity, customer satisfaction, and support costs. Detailed analytics allow for continuous improvement of service quality and efficiency.

Help desk automation

Help desk software can automate common tasks to free up agent time while keeping actions consistent. Automation can close an inactive ticket or alert a manager when a new priority-one issue is created.

SLA/SLO management

Service Level Agreements (SLAs)are a contract between the businessand the customer. Service Level Objectives (SLOs) are the objectives or goals outlined in the SLA. These SLOs define expected service levels, such as time to first response or time to resolution, that agents need to work within.

SLOs can also be quality-based, such as ensuring customer satisfaction stays above 90%.


Most help desk software allowscompaniesto customize their help desk so that it carries the company colorsand logo. You can also build custom integrations on top of the help desk toextend the software’s functionality.

Getting started with help desk software

Which help desk software you choose depends greatly on your needs, number of agents, and budget. When shopping for a solution, our experts recommend asking yourself:

  • Which channels do we need to offer support on (web, email, social, mobile, etc.)?
  • How many agents will use the software?
  • Does our company need a self-service solution/knowledge base?
  • Does our company need automation for repetitive help desk tasks?
  • What kind of reporting do we need?
  • What is our timeline?
  • What is our budget? Do we have any wiggle room?
  • How many resources can we invest in software setup?

The answers to these questions should guide you as you choose the best help desk software for your organization.

How to implement help desk software

Step one: research and get management buy-in

Define your help desk goals and needs. Research the benefits and understand what you want out of your help desk. And then present your plans to management and get buy-in.

Step two: plan before you implement

Plan your help desk processes with IT staff’s roles and capabilities in mind. Build workflows to drive those processes. And identify the metrics you’ll use to track success.

Step three: install and set up your solution

Install your help desk software. Import contacts, user information, and other assets as needed. Add your IT users and admins. Define ticket categories and issue types. Set up queues and automation rules. And edit email templates and define filters.

Step four: add advanced configurations as needed

Integrate help desk software with other applications. Import your documentation into the knowledge base. Define your SLOs. Set up reports and notifications. And configure approval workflows.

How much does help desk software cost?

The price of help desk software depends on company size, team size, and business needs. Typically, it’s calculated by how many agents are resolving tickets. Cost questions are always tough to answer because the range is so huge—from basic free programs built for small businesses to thousands of dollars per month for enterprise-level, customizable solutions.

With Jira Service Management, it’s easy for every team, from IT to HR to legal, to set up and tailor their help desks to meet their specific needs. Get started with no setup time or installation required.

Try Jira Service Management

Help Desk: Functions, Benefits, Features and Software (2024)


What is the function of help desk software? ›

Help desk software allows companies to accept, track, and respond to support requests in an organized fashion. Many help desk programs also provide knowledge bases, self-service portals, SLO management, and reporting. Choosing the right help desk software for you depends on your company's specific needs.

What are the benefits of the service desk function? ›

What Are The Benefits Of Using An IT Service Desk? An IT service desk can help you streamline operations, align IT and business processes, make decisions based on accurate data, and have complete control over your assets.

What are the 5 key things you see as benefits of a ticketing solution? ›

Top 5 Benefits of Best Help Desk Ticketing System
  • Ensures Customer Satisfaction.
  • Improves Business Operations.
  • Empowers Customers With Self-Service.
  • Makes Ticket Management Efficient.
  • Allows better team collaboration.

What are the benefits of help desk? ›

10 Ways a Help Desk Helps You
  • Work more efficiently. Office workers can submit issues easily and get their tech issues fixed faster, allowing everyone to spend more time being productive, and less time twiddling their thumbs. ...
  • Multitask smarter, even on the go. ...
  • One place for all IT requests. ...
  • Customize to meet your needs.

What are the responsibilities of a help desk? ›

Help Desk Job Responsibilities:

Provides technical support to users by researching and answering questions, troubleshooting problems, and maintaining workstation and LAN performance. Provides answers to clients by identifying problems, researching answers, and guiding clients through corrective steps.

What are the capabilities of IT service desk? ›

An IT service desk assists customers with incident resolution or service request management, it creates and manages departmental knowledge, it offers self-service for customers who want to resolve incidents quickly and independently, and it provides metrics on the team and the tool's effectiveness.

What is the main objective of the service desk? ›

The service desk acts as a single point of contact between the IT organization and the business for all incident reports, service requests, change notifications, and any other necessary communications.

What does an IT helpdesk do? ›

An IT help desk is usually the first point of contact for employees and customers to get help with their IT issues. They can submit a ticket about their issue, and an IT team member will help them resolve it. Or, they can search through a knowledge base with help content to find answers on their own.

What are the objectives of help desk system? ›

The goal of a help desk is to provide quick and effective resolution of requests and to ensure a positive customer experience. Primary help desk tasks include assisting customers with technical issues, service, or product problems.

What are some of the functions of support services? ›

Support Services Functions
  • Budgets.
  • Capital Programmes.
  • Monitoring.
  • Accounts.
  • Service Planning.
  • Performance Reporting & Monitoring.
  • Parking Business Account.
  • Project Management.

Why is the helpdesk ticketing system important? ›

A help desk ticketing system streamlines the collection of data and agent workflows regardless of how busy contact centers get or what channels customers choose. By converting issues into tickets, customer service teams can organize their workloads and prioritize.

What are the benefits of CRM ticketing system? ›

A CRM ticketing system integrates customer relationship management features with helpdesk ticketing capabilities. This allows businesses to manage and analyze customer interactions and support requests in a single platform, enhancing the efficiency and quality of customer service.

What is ticketing tool in help desk? ›

A ticketing system is a help desk software program used to process, manage, and track customer issues from submission to resolution. Ticketing systems automatically organize and prioritize support requests in a central dashboard. Users can tag, categorize, and assign tickets as they come in.

What is the objective of help desk system? ›

(The software is often referred to as a ticketing system or issue tracking system.) The goal of a help desk is to provide quick and effective resolution of requests and to ensure a positive customer experience. Primary help desk tasks include assisting customers with technical issues, service, or product problems.

How does the help desk work? ›

An IT help desk is usually the first point of contact for employees and customers to get help with their IT issues. They can submit a ticket about their issue, and an IT team member will help them resolve it. Or, they can search through a knowledge base with help content to find answers on their own.

What help desk provides? ›

A help desk refers jointly to a team or department within an organization that provides real-time (usually technical) assistance to customers and software end-users, as well as the help desk systems and technology platforms that make it possible, including self-service, ticketing, and messaging tools.

Which of these is a purpose of the service desk function? ›

The purpose of the 'service desk' practice is to capture demand for incident resolution and service requests. It serves as the single point of contact for users to report incidents and request services.

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