Help desk – definition and meaning

A help desk or helpdesk is a service that provides support and information for users and customers. Help desks primarily exist for computer systems or software users. However, the term may apply to many other types of products or services. A help desk may also exist within a company for its employees.

Help desks aim to troubleshoot problems or help guide users on the use of a product. For example, users of software, food, computers, apparel, or electronic equipment may call a help desk.

Companies typically provide a help desk through different channels such as websites or email. They may also provide the service through toll-free numbers or instant messaging.

Wikipedia has the following definition of the term:

“A help desk is a resource intended to provide the customer or end user with information and support related to a company’s or institution’s products and services.”

Who works at the help desk?

Help desks may consist of just one individual that people contact. That person has training in how to handle the problems that usually come in.

In larger companies, help desks may have several people. In fact, some of them may be experts in their field.

A telecommunications company, for example, may have a group of experts. They use software to help track the status of special software and other problems to help analyze defects.

** Telecommunications refers to communicating at a distance using hi-tech equipment.

Help Desk definition
Help desks may help outsiders, i.e., customers, insiders, i.e., employees, or both. Call centers, on the other hand, usually only deal with outsiders.

Help desk vs. call center

The term ‘call center‘ has a similar meaning. If I want to place an order, get help with products, or track shipments I may contact a call center.

Call centers usually have more general duties than help desks. Call centers typically only deal with people outside the company or organization.

Help desks, on the other hand, may also work internally, i.e., with employees of the same company. They help other employees solve problems so that they can do their jobs.

In hi-tech companies, help desks tend to deal with more difficult problems. In other words, if the call center cannot solve a problem, it may transfer the person to the help desk.

According to

“in everyday life, organizations calling themselves help desks or service desks may have very similar setups and obligations.”

“As of 2012, the term ‘service desk’ is starting to be used slightly more than ‘help desk,’ though many people and organizations use the terms interchangeably.”