What Is The Difference Between IT Help Desk And Technical Support?

difference between IT help desk & technical support

When it comes to the IT realm, terms like service desk, IT help desk, tech support, customer service, and incident management gets used interchangeably.

The aim of these teams can be to resolve employee and customer queries and issues, but they primarily differ in the type of issues they handle and the service they offer.

For example, a technical support team works on IT issues that may hinder employees from doing their job. On the other hand, a help desk team would respond to questions and concerns from customers. The team can be considered the face of the business.

Both teams aim to keep businesses functioning smoothly and provide a positive experience to users. But the scope of work they undertake may vary.

As an IT manager, it is essential to know the difference between these teams. It can help you provide targeted support to users and make it easier for employees to handle incoming tickets.

The article will look at the help desk and tech support teams in detail, their differences, and their importance.

What Does a Help Desk Do?

A help desk team may be the first point of contact between the customer and the company. The agents may be equipped to answer a broad range of basic queries and concerns.

The scope of tickets may involve guidance and information requests about company products, services, sponsorships, and policies, among others.

The team may also handle simple technical issues. They could double up as the L1 support team for tickets requiring technical expertise. For example, users may contact the help desk vendors  for password reset or raise access requests.

So, help desk agents may be required to know all about the ins and outs of the business, covering a broad range of topics at a basic level.

What Does a Technical Support Team Do?

As the name suggests, a technical support team may primarily look into issues related to the IT infrastructure. For example, one may involve tech support in major technical problems, like when an application is not working as expected, the printers have stopped working, or when a server goes down.

We can consider the technical support team as the one that provides an L2 or L3 level of support for specific tech issues.

Users may initially reach out to the help desk for a technical issue. However, if the issue is too complex, the agent will route the ticket to the tech support team.

What is the Difference Between a Help Desk and Technical Support Team?

As we have seen above, one of the primary differences between the help desk and the tech support team is the scope of work covered. So let us look at some of the core differences in detail.

1. Objective

The help desk system was first started to provide users with tech support. But its scope has considerably grown since its inception. Apart from technical issues, the agents are now trained to handle queries related to business products, services, and operations.

Their objective is to make IT easier for users. They use the tools and knowledge available to better serve customers rather than manage the IT infrastructure.

On the other hand, the objective of the tech support team is to manage the IT infrastructure and keep it running. If anything in the system is broken, it is the tech team’s job to fix the issue.

2. Customer Interaction

Your help desk team can be considered the face of your business. The help desk agents could be the first people customers interact with when they contact your business.

Your help desk agents must be trained in the technical and functional aspects of the business along with soft skills.

Resolving customer queries can be their primary objective, but their communication skills are equally important when dealing with customers. For example, if they answer a question but are rude in the process, you still stand to lose credibility as a brand.

Thus, training your help desk agents to deal with and interact with customers is vital.

The technical support team may have limited or no contact when resolving tickets. For example, in case the ticket is routed from the help desk, it may already include enough information needed to fix the issue.

Or if during troubleshooting, the issue is found to be with the application, software, server, or network, the tech support team will fix the problem and provide details to the help desk.

This does not mean you can skip over soft skill training for tech support. But compared to the help desk, the tech agents will have a limited scope of dealing with customers directly.

3. Technical Expertise

The help desk can handle repetitive and basic technical issues. They will be provided technical training, but the scope of the tech work they can handle will be limited.

Your tech support team needs to consist of employees with sound technical expertise. In addition, they must be experienced in various aspects of IT support, like troubleshooting, configuration, monitoring, and fixing issues.

Retaining top technical talent is one of the major issues faced by companies globally. A McKinsey survey found for 61% of HR professionals, hiring technical talent may be one of the biggest challenges in the near future.

To overcome this challenge, you can work with an MSP that can provide you with immediate access to technical expertise per your requirements.

Why is it Important to Have Both Help Desk and Technical Support Teams?

It is crucial to maintain the distinction between help desk and tech support so one can handle issues according to their severity, customer service does not suffer, the IT infrastructure is maintained, and resources are well-utilized

For example, if you have tech support agents spend time attending to customers and resolving simple tech issues, they might not get enough time to look at complex issues. Or vice-versa, the agents could be involved in major issues, and customer requests may get ignored.


A help desk’s scope of work may include a range of informational, functional, and basic technical tickets. On the other hand, a technical support team may specifically look into tech issues that are too complex for the help desk.

Both teams aim to serve the customers and keep the business running, but they differ in terms of their objectives, customer interactions, and level of technical expertise.

By outsourcing MSP help desk services, you can enhance the user experience through exploring the various technical support services they offer.

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