Help Desk vs Technical Support: What’s The Difference?

Help desk and IT support are two words that people often confuse. While both are designed to help with customer support, they serve two distinct purposes. Customer service does not end once the goods have been rendered or services have been delivered. Providing a good after-sales experience contributes to customer satisfaction. This is where both your help desk and IT support come into play. 

While most stores have a separate department for handling after-sales concerns, customers find it more convenient to just phone in their issues. After-sales experience can make or break the customer journey. Statistics from Customer Thermometer reveal that 54% of customers have high expectations from customer service today. That is why these two functions are important. In order to better help you determine which function is right for your business, let us take a look at the difference between help desk and technical support.  

  • What Is a Help Desk? 
  • What Is Tech Support?
  • Functions of Help Desk 
  • Functions of Tech Support 
  • Difference Between Help Desk and Tech Support 

1. What is a Help Desk? 

A help desk is primarily designed to provide quick resolutions to the immediate needs and technical issues and incidents of end-users. It is reactive in nature but efficiency and speed is highly expected. It provides support for incident and service request management and basic change and enablement functionality. 

The focus of the help desk is to improve user productivity and serves as a single point of contact for IT support. Typically, the help desk provides routine maintenance and check-ins, fixes upon request, and periodic patches and updates. Help desk is usually tasked with keeping computers and networks up and running. It is usually called upon to provide on-demand support. When there is an issue, a help desk usually assists the customer in providing solutions. In most cases, they will also provide basic self-service options to end-users.  

Help desk support helps with customer satisfaction. Happy customers usually translate to increased revenue.  Statistics from Salesforce reveal that 91% of customers say they will likely make repeat purchases after a positive experience and 71% say they made a purchase decision based on experience quality. 

2. What is Tech Support? 

Technical support, on the other hand, is aimed towards ensuring that customers will get the most out of their products. Compared to a help desk, tech support focuses on finding solutions to more technical problems like installation issues, login errors, and other difficulties that could negatively impact user experience. 

Tech support focuses on helping customers use a product more effectively. The CMO Council found out that providing better technical advice and assistance can help improve product ownership experience for users. The primary job of tech support is to help customers solve complex technical problems. For this reason, they need to be competent in tech matters. 

Tech support helps your business address potential problems such as power failures, connectivity issues, and server malfunctions by creating a backup plan.  The tech team will help ensure business continuity.

3. Functions of Help Desk 

Help desks areideal for businesses that are confident in their current IT systems, security, and backup plans. These are companies looking to keep their current productivity levels efficient. Help desk provides on-demand Support. In a help desk, you reach out to a technician who will then work to resolve the issue you are calling about.

Help desks will also be tasked with monitoring network performance or  security issues. They are also charged with performing routine maintenance to ensure that your network is running smoothly. The help desk is also tasked with automating ticket tracking, routing, and email notifications. They will also be charged with basic incident and service request management. 

In addition, there will be times when they will have some integrated IT functions like configuration and knowledge management. If escalation is needed, a help desk will be tasked to provide level 1 and 2 support as well as pass incident ownership. Finally, the help desk will also be tasked to display basic self-service options for end users. 

4. Functions of IT Support  

Your tech support provider will become your business partner and will have a crucial role in business planning and decision making. Their main function is to stabilize your IT costs by offering security planning and disaster prevention strategies lowering your long-term costs. IT support is aligned with your business goals by streamlining your process and leveraging opportunities which could ultimately improve your cost efficiency. 

Technical support can help improve productivity by ensuring reliability and streamlined functionality of your IT solutions. Tech support will consistently monitor risk factors, scan any vulnerability, or find ways to strengthen your security measures. As a result, you develop a long-term and collaborative partnership with your provider. 

Compared to the help desk, tech support handles the complex issues. According to the New York Times, 73% of tech support managers reported an increase in complex support calls because customers these days are more tech savvy and can resolve simpler issues by themselves. According to the report, 25-30% of tech support queries are far more complicated that it requires staff with in-depth knowledge to provide technical advice. 

5. Difference Between Help Desk and Technical Support 

Aside from the job roles and responsibilities, there is also a huge difference in functioning and approaches of help desk and technical support. 

Different Goals  

Since the Help Desk is usually the first point of contact for customers, it usually has a more customer-centric approach. They primarily aim to address customer needs in order to boost customer satisfaction. The help desk supports general issues and problems and lets tech support handle technical issues. 

Technical support, on the other hand, aims to offer technical customer service. They focus on resolving technical problems or malfunctioning products or services. The goal of tech support is to identify the root cause of technical problems and find the quickest possible solution. The aim of technical support is to find a successful resolution in one go so that there is no need for customers to contact them again. 

Different Approach While Listening To Customers 

Help Desks should have empathy for customers and make them their top priority. They should give assurance to customers that they are handling their case and that they matter to your company. The Help Desk doesn’t usually listen to “fix” an issue but provides recommendations for a possible solution for the problem at hand. 

Meanwhile, tech support is focused on addressing the problem head-on. They are the ones who listen to customers looking for a “fix” to the problems they are facing. Their goal is to quickly resolve technical issues their customer is facing. Tech support guides customers by giving them detailed steps on how to resolve their problem. 

Comprehensive vs Targeted Problem-Solving   

A Help Desk looks at customer problems in a holistic and general perspective. While technical knowledge is not a must, the help desk should have a broad knowledge about their product or service offerings. 

On the other hand, tech support utilizes target-specific problem solving. They classify problems into software, hardware, network, system, etc. This allows them to offer customized solutions for technical issues.  

Required Skills 

The Help Desk is usually the front line level of support (Tier 1) where customers make initial contact. The customer may be coming from different channels like phone, email, social media, contact form, and others. A Help Desk support team will have some form of tracking software for trouble tickets or issues. 

Help Desks need to have the following skills to be successful:

  • General knowledge of the areas of support, which includes hardware or software and apps. They need these skills to be able to provide the best customer service at their level. 
  • How to communicate in the above areas and the ability to understand the customer’s needs as well, especially when customers are not able to clearly explain their concern. 
  • High degree of soft skills such as good communication and customer service best practices and excellent interpersonal communication skills. 

Meanwhile, IT support addresses technology-related issues such as hardware and software. Issues related to the former may include computer and handheld device issues such as displays, hard drives, memory, motherboards and network items like routers, switches, network servers, and others. 

Software issues may include operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Apple OS, and others, applications like Office applications, web browser conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, etc., handheld device apps.  

IT support skills required include technical expertise in the specific area and some soft skills, like good communication skills so they can explain the issue to non-technical customers, and good customer service interpersonal skills. 

Connection Between Help Desk and Tech Support

Help Desks can be incorporated into the larger tech support department or let tech support resolve the issue when it is something they cannot resolve. It also serves as the first point of contact for IT support. The Help Desk acts as the gatekeeper to tech support but both have the goal of providing customer service. 

Having both Help Desks and tech support can help ensure efficient operations. If tech support will be the one to handle every call and deal with the basic questions, they wouldn’t have time to manage their tech support duties. Tech support provides a more proactive solution for most problems while the help desk is focused on a more reactive approach. 

Why Outsource Customer Support with airisX? 

Whether your company needs a help desk or an IT support, airisX can find the right solution that fits your needs. Our services are flexible and contracts are based on your specific needs. Whether you only need a one time project, additional skills for just a few hours a week, or you may need a multi-year contract for long term support and scalability. Whatever your requirements, your Solutions Architect can work with you to find the right solution. 


airisX has solutions for all sizes and types of companies. Getting started is as easy as scheduling a consultation with us, so go ahead and