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The Difference Between a Call Center and Service Desk

What Is a Call Center?

Call centers are usually an outward-facing department designed to provide customer support, make sales, or even conduct surveys or set appointments.

While call centers used to focus exclusively on inbound or outbound telephone calls, most of today’s call centers now use a multi-channel approach, handing email inquiries, live chat, and even video chat. Because of the wide range of communication platforms used in today’s call centers, many of these departments are now called contact centers.

So what is the difference between a call center and customer service? In short, the call center is the organization that provides customer service. Agents might answer questions about missing shipments or faulty products, help a customer navigate a website, schedule appointments, and ensure customers are happy and satisfied with their buying experience.

What Is a Service Desk?

The term “service desk” usually refers to an IT service desk, or the department that handles IT requests like website glitches, software problems, and hardware issues. A service desk can be an internal department—one that serves employees—or it can be an outward-facing department that serves customers.

For example, an SaaS (software as a service) company may have a service desk for their B2B clients to get help resolving issues with the software, while a technology company like Apple or Samsung might have a service desk that works directly with customers.

What Is a Help Desk?

help desk is an extension of the IT service desk, focused exclusively on fixing problems. So what is the difference between a help desk and a service desk? While the service desk has a broader scope of walking a customer or employee through how to accomplish a task on their device or install new software, the help desk exists to manage smaller IT problems that can be quickly fixed.

It’s important to note that these terms may have some overlap, with the help desk being roped into the service desk at some companies or vice versa.

The comparison between a help desk vs a call center is a little more distinct: a help desk is a problem-solving IT department, while a call center focuses on general customer service. Call center agents are not experts in IT and may refer a customer to the help desk as required

What is the difference between a Call Center and Service Desk?

On the surface, the nuances of different types of customer service may not seem that important. But when you’re trying to optimize every aspect of your company, even the smallest variations can have a big impact on business outcomes.

So if you’ve been asking yourself about the difference between a service desk and technical support or the difference between a help desk and a service desk, we’re here to help. We’ll break down these terms so you can understand precisely what they mean—and how each one might help your business.

Check out our guide to learn the difference between a call center, a service desk, a help desk, and more. Essentially, service desks provide customer service based narrowly on IT issues, while call centers serve a much broader purpose. Service desks may fix IT problems, walk an employee or customer through how to do something on a website or software program, install upgrades, or manage data security.


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