Definition

service desk

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: IT services management and best practices: An enterprise CIO guide

A service desk is a communications center that provides a single point of contact (SPOC) between a company and its customers, employees and business partners. The purpose of a service desk is to ensure that users receive appropriate help in a timely manner.

Service desks are designed to handle both incidents and service requests. In this context, an incident is an event that results in a disruption in service availability or quality. A service request seeks help with a routine task, such as helping a user change a password or getting a new user set up in work systems. Other services provided may include change management, release management and configuration-related tasks.

The service desk is one of three main options for customer and/or user support. The other two SPOC entities are call centers and help desks. There is some confusion about the difference between service desks and help desks. According to the ITILv.2 definition, service desk was just another term for help desk. However, ITILv.3 differentiates between the two, saying that service desks offer a broader range of service capabilities, solve more problems in fewer steps and enable integration of business processes into the service management infrastructure.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) defines the service desk as an essential information technology service management (ITSM) tool. ITIL is a globally recognized collection of best practices for IT service management.

This was last updated in October 2010

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