ITIL Service Desk | ITIL Foundation | ITSM

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In this tutorial, we will discuss about the ITIL Service Desk which is also known as ITIL Help Desk process. In this chapter, you will learn What is a Service Desk? - the definition, objective, scope, activities, roles, and types of Service Desk - ITIL V3 function. You will also learn the concept of Self-Help Service Desk, which is emerging quite fast in today's world.

What is ITIL Service Desk? 

Service Desk is one of the main functions under Service Operation module of ITIL Framework. This process is also widely known as ITIL Help Desk Process.

The ITIL Service Desk is responsible for supporting the IT Organization by ensuring the accessibility and availability of the IT Service and by performing various supporting tasks. From user’s point of view, it works as a single point of contact (SPOC) for reporting all the incidents, problems, and service requests.

As we can see from its description, the Service Desk (ITIL V3) also works as the 1st level support for incidents and service requests.

ITIL Service Desk Objective: 

The primary objective of ITIL service desk function is to support the IT Organization by ensuring the accessibility and availability of the IT Services and by performing various supporting activities. It also aims to act as a single point of contact (SPOC) for reporting all the incidents, problems, and service requests.

Some other important objectives of service desk include:

  • Restoring the "normal service operation" as quickly as possible in the case of disruption.
  • Take steps to improve user awareness about ongoing IT issues and to promote appropriate use of IT services, components, and resources
  • Assisting other ITSM processes and functions by escalating incidents and requests using defined procedures and maintaining effective communication channel.

The Scope of ITIL Service Desk: 

The Service Desk provides an interface and common communication channel for other ITSM processes so that they all get the same update while working jointly to resolve an issue.

Some processes like Incident Management, Problem Management, Request Fulfillment, and Change Management are heavily dependant on the activities performed by Service Desk.

The scope of work for ITIL Service Desk is spread over various fields. Some of them are listed below:

Network Operations:

This refers to the ability to monitor existing network devices remotely. Due to this ability, a Service Desk is also able to do some additional work such as monitoring program traffic, preparing incident reports, monitoring the condition of the network, and backup crucial data etc.

By deploying a highly efficient Service Desk, the optimization and troubleshooting of the IT network infrastructure get easier.

Systems Operations:

Service Desk also has the capability to monitor and manage the core systems. Some of its responsibilities include observation of system performance, installing software patches, User account management etc. If properly trained, they can also offer user support for various platforms such as Windows, Linux, Unix etc.

Database Software:

Monitoring the health and performance of the databases, database software, and database servers are also falls under the responsibility of Service Desk. They must periodically check for the database inconsistencies, review the database logs for the software such as Oracle, DB2, MySQL etc.

Security Management:

According to ITIL, Service Desk should also be responsible for checking and reporting IT security issues. They are also entitled to do proactive security checks in the Server/User systems. To efficiently protect an organization from both internal and external threats, Service Desk can help in the vulnerability assessment of the security systems, monitor IPS logs, and also practice access management procedures.

ITIL Service Desk Activities: 

Below lists some major activities performed by this Service Desk - ITIL V3 function:

  • Request Fulfillment: Provide an interface for users to request a service.
  • Incident Control: Managing the life-cycle of incidents and problems.
  • Communication: keeping stakeholders informed about the current status of issues and advising on workarounds.
  • Coordination: Improving coordination between other processes and functions of ITSM [especially for CMDB updates].
  • Escalation: managing escalation of issues, if they are not resolved within a defined timeline.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Improving customer satisfaction by timely responding to customer requests and by sending periodic communications to them.

ITIL Service Desk Types: 

ITIL categorizes service desk in many types depending on the scope of work, Location of physical service desk, Working hours etc. Below are some of the most important types of service desk that are described in the ITIL V3.

Service Desk Type by Level of Service Offerings: 

By looking into the level of service offerings, we can categorize this function into three types:

(i) Call Center: Only receives phone calls from Customers. Then they document the Customer’s requests (log the requests) and forward to an appropriate support group.

(ii) Help Desk: Receives telephone calls and/or emails, and tries to resolve incidents at the first level. Help Desk doesn’t handle service requests (e.g. account creation, deletion, password reset etc.).

[See our guide on Difference Between Helpdesk and Service Desk]

(iii) Service Desk: A single window for raising service tickets, as well as handling incidents, problems, requests, and questions. It also provides an interface for other activities such as change requests, software licensing, service-level management, configuration management, and maintains escalation procedures. Moreover, Service Desk retains the ownership of any ticket (service or incident) until the resolution and closure.

Service Desk Type by Structure and Location: 

By looking into the internal structure and location, ITIL Service Desk can be categorized into three types:

(i) Local Service Desk: In this type, the service desk is situated close to the customer, generally at the same physical location (or same time-zone for international organizations).

(ii) Central Service Desk: A centralized Service Desk supports multiple user groups from a centralized location (physical location). For a large organization, this is the most cost-effective & viable implementation structure. The only constraints in some cases are language or cultural barriers.

(iii) Virtual Service Desk: A Service Desk that has no physical structure, but instead utilizes the technology to simulate its functions. In this case, the associates may be located at different locations but all shares the same centralized Knowledgebase.

(iv) Follow the Sun: The most complex structure of Service Desk implementation spreading across different locations (or time-zones) to provide 24x7 customer support around the globe. In this type of operation, the staffs are hired at multiple locations and all in day shifts. Customer calls are redirected to the Service location according to their working hours. Although there are multiple physical service centers, they still share the same Centralized Knowledgebase.

What is Self-Service Help Desk in ITIL? 

Some organization offers some self-service help desk capabilities to the user to reduce the call pressure of service desk. The takes help of technology to develop a menu-driven webpage or menu-driven IVR programs to provide solutions to the common problems and/or answers to the frequent questions.

An example of this is calling the telecom operator where the IVR responds with different common options before actually connecting to Call Center Associates.

To implement this type of solution (self-service help desk), the organization must have:

  • Computerized service desk systems;
  • Voice services (adv. menu systems, voicemail, SMS);
  • Web and email (access, notification, updates);
  • A website that contains links to SLAs, CMDB etc;
  • Access to availability monitoring tools;
  • Self-help for customers using technology.

Measuring the Success of ITIL Service Desk: 

The only way you can measure the success of Service Desk implementation is by measuring the amount of benefits you are receiving. Some of the benefits that can be used to access the success of ITIL Service Desk implementation are:

Improved Customer Satisfaction: If the service desk is implemented properly, then it will also improve the quality of customer service. So this can be a significant indicator for measuring the success rate.

Company Satisfaction: As an efficient Service Desk team makes the IT system management easier, it will surely improve the satisfaction level of the internal employees working in the strategic business management section.

Effective and Consistent User Communication: Results a significantly improved communication channel between the enterprise and its users. Since the reported issues/inquiries will be attended and addressed more quickly, this will help to build an effective communication channel between the helpdesk and the users.

ITIL Service Desk Roles and Responsibilities: 

Incident Manager:

Service Desk Manager:

  • In some larger organization, a separate Service Desk Manager is appointed to manage this function.
  • The Service Desk Manager's work is to manage the service desk under the supervision of Incident Manager.

[See Also: Different Support Levels of ITSM Roles: L0, L1, L2, ...] 


We hope that you have enjoyed the above article describing the ITIL Service Desk and the types of Service Desk. Be with us to explore free training on Leading Technologies and Certifications.

Leave us some comments if you have any questions or doubts about the Service Desk - ITIL V3 Function, we will be happy to help you.

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I'm passionate about Information Technology & spreading my knowledge makes me happy. I Have MBA(IS), ITIL, PRINCE2, CCNA, CCNP, MCSA, MS Hyper-V Certifications, and Trained in PMP, CCIE. And also have 10+ Yrs of Work Experience.
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