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    What’s the Difference Between IT Support and IT Helpdesk?

    July 25, 2023

July 25, 2023

What’s the Difference Between IT Support and IT Helpdesk?

What’s the Difference Between IT Support and IT Helpdesk?

If you hear the terms “IT helpdesk” and “IT support” you might think these terms are interchangeable. That makes sense as, they are frequently used as synonyms of each other. However, in the world of technology support there are some crucial differences between the two.

Understanding the difference between support and helpdesks can ensure that you get assistance you need to minimize costly downtime if your technology goes awry. We’ve covered everything you need to know about the differences between these two services so you can stay on top of your IT needs.

IT Helpdesk and Support: Are They the Same?

The short answer is no, IT support and IT helpdesks (sometimes known as service desks) are not the same thing. While they do share similarities and have some overlapping functions, support and helpdesks are differentiated by the depth of expertise they’re able to provide.

A helpdesk is designed to respond to service tickets that resolve everyday customer issues with a technology product or service. Helpdesks are usually the first point of contact when a client or customer experiences a problem.

IT support (or tech support) goes deeper into issues that require more time and expertise. There can be overlap between helpdesk and support teams but IT support professionals require more training and experience to handle the demands of their job.

Understanding Helpdesk and Support Team Roles

The objectives and problem-solving perspective of support professionals and helpdesk professionals are where differences come to the fore. Helpdesk professionals take a person-centered approach while service professionals are focused on fixing problems with technical solutions.

Helpdesk professionals need a technical background in addition to large doses of people skills and empathy. As the first line of support, they often deal with frustrated clients who lack the technical knowledge to operate a product or service. Their role is to remain calm and offer general solutions related to the client’s issue. They might not have deep technical expertise, but they do need a wide understanding of the products and services their company offers.

In contrast, support professionals listen to the client to understand the technical issue. They either provide careful and detailed instructions that will fix the issue, or they fix it themselves as the situation permits. Support pros also have a wide knowledge of their company’s offerings but they also understand the ins-and-outs of the hardware and software to troubleshoot and repair more difficult problems quickly.

Types of Helpdesks                        

Helpdesks themselves can be organized in different ways or deliver their services via different platforms. The most common types of helpdesks are centralized, decentralized, virtual, and specialist helpdesks.

  • A centralized helpdesk relies on a single individual or team to make the final decisions about when and how tasks are completed and what the goals of each task should be.
  • A decentralized helpdesk is organized into different sub departments or teams that make their own decisions regarding the tasks they encounter on the job. Typically each department has a focus like customer complaints, employee issues, etc.
  • Virtual helpdesks provide remote helpdesk services through a digital interface. This eliminates the need for onsite helpdesk staff while still providing robust and responsive IT assistance
  • A specialist helpdesk is manned by subject matter experts who have in-depth training on a specific product or service their company offers.

Helpdesks regardless of type of often organized in a hierarchy, or tiered support model that is designed to funnel customer needs into the appropriate category so they can get the help they need fast. The tiered model categorizes requests based on their complexity to get to the root of the problem fast.  

IT Specialist vs. IT Support: Understanding the Differences

Now that we’ve covered the nuances of professionals who man the helpdesk, it’s time to cover some of the differences you might encounter within the world of IT Support. An IT specialist and an IT support professional both have deep knowledge of the more technical aspects of the job but they have different sets of focus and responsibilities.

An IT Specialist has expertise in a specific area of IT, like network administration, database management, or cybersecurity. Their primary responsibility is to create and execute specific IT systems within their area of specialization. They use their in-depth knowledge and advanced skills to handle complex tasks and resolve issues related to their expertise. Typically, an IT specialist spends more of their time handling projects and less time handling people.

An IT Support professionals have broad knowledge across multiple areas of IT and use their expertise to manage day-to-day inquiries from customers and clients. In their role, they troubleshoot hardware or software problems to keep operations running smoothly. These IT pros have more direct engagement with the people who use technology and leverage their prodigious IT experience to help them with complex technical tasks.

Deciding Which Option is Right for You

The size and nature of your business determines whether you need a helpdesk, IT support, or both. If you’re a smaller company and generally deal with a lot of easily-resolved computer issues then a helpdesk might be the best option for you. In contrast, if your business is larger and finds itself in need to more sophisticated IT systems and support then IT support is the way to go.

In general, most people find that their needs are met with a happy medium between the two. Outsourcing your IT needs to a dedicated consulting firm provides you with the service you need at a cost you can afford. When you outsource your information technology needs, you’ll have access to everything from day-to-day troubleshooting support to cybersecurity systems that will save you time and money.

If you’re looking for a solution to your IT needs, GUT consulting can help. We bring over a decade of leadership, strategic planning, and implementation experience to keep your organization functioning properly. We create and implement proactive ideas designed to increase your profits and keep your business running smoothly. Contact us to learn more about how we can be your partner in success.