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What is an Enterprise Help Desk?

by Katie Joll · Updated Jan 6 2021

We love operating in the IT world, but it's definitely full of jargon!

In the space of help desks or service desks (the two terms are often used interchangeably), a commonly asked question is, what is an enterprise help desk?

Sounds fancy and high-tech, doesn't it? Well, it could be… Let's take a closer look:

What is an enterprise help desk?

An enterprise help desk refers to the platform that provides support, including self-service options to customers or users. “Help desk” more often refers to serving external customers of a company, for example, users of its software. “Service desk” often refers to providing internal help to employees of an organization. Sometimes those terms are used interchangeably though.

The “enterprise” part usually refers to large corporations - those with 1000 or more employees. So effectively, enterprise help desks are tasked with providing service at a scale which smaller companies don't have.

One thing that defines help desks of all shapes and sizes is that they should be a single point of contact resource. So no matter what the issue is, the help desk is the “one stop shop” that users or customers will contact.

For most enterprises, this means the help desk is not just about IT - it can be about HR and asset management issues too. If someone's salary wasn't credited, they call the same number that they would if they were locked out of their work laptop.

Many organizations worldwide have shifted to an enterprise help desk model, both for economic reasons and because the evolution of IT service management has enabled it.

Free download: How your help desk can work across the organization

The role of ITSM

We went into what ITSM does in a previous article. When it comes to the enterprise help desk, the theory of ITSM plays a big role. Basically, it aims to have the right people, technology and resources in place so that an organization can meet its business goals.

The enterprise help desk is one manifestation of this, sitting under the ITSM umbrella. Delivering great service is one key objective and the enterprise model aims to do this efficiently. It's much easier for people to contact that “one stop shop” rather than search around for the correct person or department to sort out their issue.

Enterprise help desks can bring a number of efficiencies, including for costs

Benefits of enterprise help desks

Here are some of the top benefits of an enterprise help desk:

Single point of contact

From the customer or user perspective, having a single point of contact is much easier to manage. If you've ever dealt with a large enterprise that doesn't have that, you'll know this instinctively. It's not a good customer experience when you have to spend time digging around, looking for the right department or right phone number to be calling.

When this happens, there are often issues with consistency of service, too. Each department sets their own standards and frankly, some of them aren't really “people” sort of people! You can also find that each has their own source of “truth.” So customers might be told one thing by one department and the opposite by another.

A single point of contact helps to provide consistency and a single source of truth. It all adds up to improved customer experience and better satisfaction metrics.

Process efficiencies

Enterprise help desks help to centralize support so that representatives can more efficiently direct or respond to requests. Processes can be centralized, standardized and managed much more efficiently. They can also be consistent and repeatable across the help desk.

Another efficiency is that help desk staff become experts in multiple areas and better at providing good service. This means customer concerns can be addressed more quickly and consistently.

Knowledge base and self-service options also benefit from this centralized approach. Help desk agents can keep track of what is being asked and can quickly ensure that relevant knowledge base materials are developed or updated. This doesn't usually happen with a more scattered approach. For knowledge bases to be effective, they require someone taking ownership and the enterprise help desk is ideally placed to take that initiative.

Quality improvement

Enterprise help desk agents get a first-hand view of how products and services are operating and the feedback received from users or customers. It's an opportunity to collate feedback centrally and build a clear picture of the organization as a whole.

Help desk software can be used to tabulate feedback and to look for patterns or repeat issues. It helps the organization to have a central source of feedback when reviewing what they might improve.

Improve collaboration

With the enterprise help desk providing a centralized source of communication, it becomes simpler to collaborate across different departments, for example by bringing in managers or team leaders to consult.

Enterprise help desks can streamline this collaboration through their ticketing systems. It's easy to track and monitor where requests are sitting through notes and attachments to tickets.

Strengthen brand image and reputation

When was the last time you walked away from an encounter with a large company and said “woah, that was awesome service?” It doesn't happen often. Many larger companies seem to get bogged down by their size, meaning customer service can suffer.

An enterprise service desk provides the opportunity to deliver that “wow” experience and strengthen your overall brand image. It could be the next step in growing your base of loyal customers.

Reduced operational costs

A central, enterprise service desk helps organizations to operate efficiently, often on a leaner department. Workflow automation and optimized processes can help to remove unnecessary manual work or rework. The improved self-service options that an enterprise help desk can usher in can also contribute to an overall reduction in operational costs.

Improved accountability

An enterprise help desk uses service management or ticketing technology that makes it easier to assign responsibility and maintain accountability for service requests. This can be particularly helpful for any issue that requires the collaboration of multiple departments - for example, when onboarding employees.

What makes enterprise help desks successful?

What makes enterprise help desks successful? Here are a few things we've learned from larger clients:

  1. Making the most of your technology. Teams that use their ticketing software to its full potential tend to see the most benefits in terms of efficiencies. For example, integrations with other software products you use (like Slack or Dropbox) can save time and avoid doubling-up on work.
  2. Standardization of processes. This helps the service desk function to be more scalable and more simple for training others.
  3. Splitting up responsibilities. Sometimes with bigger organizations and teams, it's much more efficient to divide your help desk into different, specialized teams. To simplify, this might include customer-facing, internal technology requests, HR, asset management…
  4. Have and promote good-quality self-service options. You can reduce the workload of help desk agents AND ensure that customers or users have quick access to the answers they need.
  5. Measure and monitor key metrics. The most successful help desks know where they sit in relation to SLAs, how they're trending and implications from the data, such as whether it's time to hire more staff.

Download our ideas for how the help desk can work across departments here

Final thoughts

Enterprise help desks have evolved to be key players in the efficient running of larger organizations. They help bring key functions together and provide customers or users with a central point of contact.

An enterprise help desk has the opportunity to make a real impact on the overall success of the organization. It is in a prime position to gather and monitor feedback, provide an overview of quality issues and provide customers with a great experience.

The enterprise help desk is worth investing in for larger organizations. It just might prove to be your competitive advantage.