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What is a help desk?

Definition: A help desk is software that centralizes a company's ability to support customers and employees while they use their products or services.

It is the main source of all the customer support efforts provided by the company in one interface operated by an experienced support team.

What does a help desk do?

A help desk's main purpose is to be a place where customers and employees can get help with their product/service use. This is achieved in many ways depending on the company’s and customer’s needs and the help desk’s architecture.

The main task of a help desk is providing technical answers to customers and employees by combining all support channels and efforts into one platform.

On this platform, customers/employees can find FAQs, live chats, support emails, blogs, and categories for all of their potential problems. And if the problem is complex, a customer can easily contact the support team through the platform.

Conversely, it enables support teams to monitor all support channels at once, allowing them to track customer behavior, manage tickets, and make changes to their support resources.

It also allows for cross-referencing customer engagement with different parts of the platform or channels, letting the team provide better answers and increase customer satisfaction.

Types of help desks

There are five types a company can choose from based on their needs:

  • Web-based - Hosted on an external server and offered as a service (SaaS) by another business which the company pays a monthly fee to keep up and running. The service provider takes care of security and maintenance and is great for small businesses that can’t build their infrastructure.
  • On-premise - Purchased software hosted on the company’s devices, allowing for high customizability and integrations into the company’s systems. It is owned by the company requiring a team to maintain and manage the software.
  • Enterprise - Designed for large companies that operate with many support teams. They offer deep customization of every support channel while integrating into a company’s workflow, allowing for collaboration on a scale.
  • Internal - Used by the company’s employees in the support, IT, and HR departments primarily and are not available to customers. They allow for quick resolutions to problems employees may have and help in solving customer problems by connecting support with the right department.
  • Open source - Based on open-source software, allowing for complete customization and flexibility of their help desk, but the company needs a specialized IT team that can build the help desk from the ground up.
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Article FAQs

What’s the difference between a help desk and a service desk?
A help desk helps customers and employees get answers about the product/service, while a service desk manages the whole company’s technical services, supporting employees by fixing their problems.
Is a help desk a call center?
No, a call center is limited to phone calls with customers, while a help desk operates on multiple channels. Help desks also provide customers with solutions to more complex problems than call centers which usually use predetermined scripts.
Is help desk a CRM?
No, a help desk provides customers with support and assistance, but it can store customer information and track their requests in a CRM-like way. The support team can use this data to provide better customer service.
What are the benefits of a help desk?
Help desks unify all support channels in one place, allowing for a better organization of support tools and increased team productivity. They improve customer satisfaction by providing quick answers to both simple and complex answers.

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