What is a Help Desk?


Photo by Maxwell Ridgeway on Unsplash

The Help Desk: the mythological space where technological problems go to get solved. Where IT superheroes live, working 24/7 to open and close tickets successfully. Combatting all of the IT bad guys on their quest for Informational Technology wisdoms and bug-free systems. Where a simple shutdown, unplug and restart can resolve even the biggest issues.

“But I swear I did that..” you say.

Sure you did, but the Help Desk does it better.

Help Desk Defined

Okay, so maybe the Help Desk (sometimes referred to as the Service Desk) isn’t the unicorn we often make it out to be. But, it is close to the legendary creature of our fantasies. As defined by the Oxford Dictionary, the Help Desk is a “service providing information and support to computer users, especially within a company.” Beyond computers, Help Desk is an all-encompassing support system for all things technologically related.

Simplified

To simplify, the Help Desk is a point of contact for users to get IT-related questions answered, troubleshooting, and the solving of customer problems or situations with phone chat, instant messaging, email communication, in-person, or through website inquiry. This area of the business is a person, Artificial Intelligence (AI), or a bit of both. It all depends on the problem, the issue, or the skills related to get the job done.

How the Help Desk Helps

Often, the Help Desk has a variety of tiered services contingent on user problem. When submitted via an online portal or through telephone communication, tickets will typically moved into categories to trends and service in order of need. Depending on the issue, that person or system in-turn attempts to fix the issue immediately by walking the user through troubleshooting (the shutdown, unplug, restart method mentioned earlier), remotes in to attempt to solve the problem themselves, or escalates to a bigger, larger more skilled unicorn technician.

The First-Level

The first-level of support is typical or standard user questions:

“My computer is going slow.”

“My monitor isn’t turning on.”

“My laptop is frozen.”

The list goes on…

This person solves your problems quickly, so you can move on with your day and your computer can function normally again.

The Second-Level

Second-level is for the first-level questions that cannot be simply fixed. Typically the second-level IT technician has more education, training and experience to handle higher level problems.

You’ll work with this tech after the first-level technician couldn’t solve the problem with the simple shutdown, unplug, restart. Nor could they solve by clearing cookies or simple troubleshooting. You have a bigger problem and someone needs to do more detective work to figure out why your laptop has grown a mind of its own.

The Third-Level

Finally, we have third-level support technicians. This type of support is for those with software-specific issues. These problems tend to be bugs, viruses, or your computer is in need of a major updated. Technicians in this field have very specific training and education in certain technologies to better handle and service these issues. Because of that experience and education, they are often referred to as “IT Architects.” These IT employees are actively focused on project work such as upgrading a company’s entire infrastructure when not helping with big problems.

In addition, third-level technicians are very experienced and it’s likely they’ve seen the issue before or know the pathway to solve the more complex issues. This could be your first-level problem, or it could be that you made the bad decision to download the ad your grandma sent you on Facebook. As a result, your laptop is having a shotgun wedding with a virus. And now, your laptop and it’s new mate are actively creating virus babies to essentially take over the world. That third-level technician annuls the laptop/virus marriage faster than Kim K. ever could.

The Help Desk Unicorn

In summary, the Help Desk is a place or grouping of people within an organization or business that works tirelessly to keep systems running, troubleshoot even the oddest of problems, and can often be found working ’round the clock to keep the Information Technology we so desperately need in tip-top shape. They are skilled, educated and top-of-their game unicorns.

They know their IT stuff, so you don’t have to.