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Help Desk vs Technical Support: What to Know Before Selecting an Outsourcing Partner

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When dealing with hardware, software, or even just customer questions, it is essential to have a support team in place to field incoming service requests and other needs.

Support options are typically set up in two distinct ways, one being a help desk, and the other a technical support team. These two teams work hand in hand to assist end users with technical issues and problems they encounter with your product, hardware, or software.

Both of these support functions are easily (and frequently) outsourced, allowing organizations to assign coveted office space to more revenue-generating tasks, while keeping other labor and overhead costs down. Of course, before you go about outsourcing your own help desk and tech support functions, it’s your responsibility to understand the differences between the two. Luckily, we’re here to help.

What is a Help Desk?

A help desk is an individual or team that a customer or employee can call for general problem-solving advice. Help desk representatives are trained to answer a wide range of questions about a product, service, or software functionality, and can usually provide quick solutions to individuals who are experiencing basic to intermediate-level problems. 

Help desks can be as small as a single desk with one employee answering calls or as big as a global organization that accepts support requests from all over the world via phone, email, online chat, or even social media. Other common names for a help desk may include:

Speed and efficiency are extremely important within this line of support because customers who contact the help desk are experiencing these problems in real time. 

Help desks should serve as a single point of contact for IT support and improve user productivity. They’re an excellent resource for customers needing easy troubleshooting and quick solutions. A good help desk employs customer support specialists with extensive technical knowledge and who provide a high level of support and quick problem-solving techniques. The help desk serves to ensure the customer experience is satisfactory and improves customer relationships.

What Does a Help Desk Do?

The main functions of a help desk are to answer any questions a customer may have about products or services as well as provide simple technical support and solutions to issues or problems. Help desk support staff is the first point of contact for a customer and is vital for customer satisfaction and retention. Help desk representatives are responsible for responding to, creating, and managing tickets, as well as escalation of tickets when the problem can’t be resolved immediately.

Response to Tickets

When a customer contacts the help desk, a member of the support staff is assigned to answer questions and solve simple technical issues, often using scripts or templated responses to common issues. These members of the help desk team answer emails, phone calls, or online messages in real time to ensure the customer’s questions are answered and that they get the support they need.

Creation of Tickets

When a customer contacts the help desk to resolve product functionality or technical problems, the support staff tries to solve those issues while on the line. However, if an initial call can’t be resolved immediately or the problem is more complex than the help desk is trained to handle, support staff must create a tech support ticket to ensure the issue is sent to the proper specialists and resolved in a timely manner.

Management of Tickets

Ticket management can be done by a person or by specially designed ticketing software. This person or software is designed to get the ticket sent to the correct help desk resource, so the customer’s technical problems are resolved quickly and efficiently.


The help desk is set up to ensure customer satisfaction. If the technical problems can’t be solved by the first member, escalation ensures that it moves up the tiers until it reaches someone who can assist the customer in solving their technical issues.

The Different Types of Help Desks

There are several different types of help desks with different functions. Every kind of help desk is different, but for the most part, they all fall into one of the four following categories:

  • Cloud Help Desk - This IT service is based entirely online, allowing help desk support to assist with customer needs from anywhere in the world, even if they aren’t in the office.
  • Enterprise Help Desks - These large help desks are used by bigger corporations or companies that have 1,000 or more employees. Enterprise help desks can include IT support, as well as HR and asset management.
  • Open-Source Help Desks - Open source refers to open source software, which is software designed to be publicly accessible, meaning anyone can use, modify, or distribute it. This is an alternative to help desks that utilize paywalls and other obstacles to limit who can access them.
  • On-Premises Help Desk - This type of help desk refers to IT software and a technical support team that is housed on-premises or inside of the company or corporation. Rather than outsourcing the IT help desk, the technical support team is in-house.

Some organizations take advantage of automation software, such as chatbots, which allow them to streamline low-level self-service support. This free or low-cost automation software is used to answer common support questions, which helps facilitate workflow and increase productivity.

What is Technical Support?

Technical support representatives provide hardware and software users with support for more technical or complex questions that a help desk isn’t equipped to answer. Tech support teams are comprised of employees who have significant technical expertise, and who are able to troubleshoot technical problems, diagnose issues, and repair malfunctioning software or hardware. 

They’re also able to help employees and customers tackle more significant problems, including server breakdowns, power failures, and internet connection issues. 

Additional names for a technical support team could include:

  • IT Solutions Center
  • Computer Support Center
  • Technical Support Center

Functions of Technical Support

Technical support is designed to enhance user productivity, monitor potential risks, and provide quick and efficient resolutions to technical issues. The technical support staff is there to assist with any tickets related to IT, hardware, or software via phone, email, social media, a ticketing system, or real-time chat. Below you will find some of the most important functions of these more specialized teams.

Enhance User Productivity by Streamlining Functionality

Technical support is vital in enhancing user productivity. The technical support service desk is designed to research, diagnose, troubleshoot, and identify resolutions for any system issues. Whether a user can’t access the company’s service provider, or is experiencing a malfunctioning webpage issue, this is the team that can help.

When there are a lot of unresolved technical issues, productivity and user experience suffer. The technical support team is there to streamline functionality by quickly and efficiently troubleshooting, diagnosing, and solving technical problems so the user can accomplish their task. 

A team member will assess the problem to determine if it is a user error, a bug, or other technical issue. After diagnosing the problem, they will do what is needed to resolve the issue.

Monitor Potential Risks & Vulnerabilities

The technical support team isn’t just for resolving technical issues. They also conduct vulnerability scans to identify software flaws, malware, misconfigurations, and other underlying issues that may pose a threat to security or make the product vulnerable to bugs. This aspect of technical support is an ongoing process that ensures the product is working as well as it can and helps identify any cybersecurity issues.

Help Businesses Remain Competitive

Technical support helps businesses compete by helping execute business processes quickly and efficiently, which in turn increases profitability. In other words, having an efficient IT department with a wide knowledge base can help resolve technical issues before they hold up important business processes (for your own business and customers’). This is done through troubleshooting, replacing and repairing computer equipment, testing new technology, and training end users on the hardware or software being used.

Main Differences Between Help Desk and Technical Support

While a help desk and technical support are both designed to assist with software and hardware in a quick and cost-effective way, there are a few main differences spanning their approach to the customer, their goals, and their problem-solving tactics.

Customer Approach

The customer approach is vastly different between a help desk and technical support. Help desk representatives are very customer-centric and focus on addressing customer issues in a friendly, helpful way. The support staff at the help desk must listen to customer issues with empathy and respond in a way that makes the customer feel heard and supported.

Technical support is designed to address technical issues and problems. Their main goal is to fix the issue and approach the situation in a much more technical way. Their approach is less customer-centric; in fact, many times a technical support representative does not have to speak directly to a customer at all, instead relying on the help desk team to communicate back to the customer.

Goals and Perspectives

A help desk is a more general hub where customers can submit any type of query, request, or issue. The help desk is designed to field inbound callers’ questions, provide answers or advice as appropriate, and create and route tickets for remaining questions to the correct team for resolution, whether they be general or technical. Since help desk support staff is the first point of contact for a customer looking for assistance, their goal is to ensure customer satisfaction.

Alternatively, technical support has the required knowledge and certifications to help with more extensive technical issues. The goal of technical support is to tackle the problem head-on, diagnose it, and resolve the issue. The technical support staff aims to resolve the issue as quickly as possible and in a way that the customer does not have to contact the help desk again for the same issue; however, sometimes the nature of the issue may involve days, weeks, or even months to address.

Knowledge Base and Problem-Solving Tactics

The help desk support staff has general knowledge of the products and services the company offers. They are not required to have in-depth technological knowledge. The help desk may utilize help desk software to help manage tickets and track metrics to ensure the customer issues reach the proper channels and are resolved as quickly as possible.

The technical support staff has in-depth technical knowledge so they can target the problem and solve it quickly and efficiently. They can help with various issues with the software, hardware, network, system, and more. The technical support staff can provide highly specialized solutions for technical problems, while the help desk offers more generalized solutions.


Help desks and technical support are both helpful tools for customers and employees to access the assistance they need to do their jobs or accomplish their goals. A help desk is a great way to keep customer satisfaction ratings high and provide a broad range of customer assistance. Technical support helps keep business processes running smoothly by providing effective long-term resolutions and scanning for potential risks and vulnerabilities.

The functions of both of these teams can be outsourced to third parties—and this is often the case, because outsourcing helps keep costs low. Outsourcing your help desk or technical support staff can help protect your company’s brand by providing a broader coverage area and round-the-clock support. Outsourcing is also a great way to provide support in other languages when needed. If you do decide to outsource your help desk or technical support staff, finding a high-quality, reliable outsourcing partner like TDS Global Solutions is crucial.

TDS Global Solutions provides top-of-the-line assistance in customer support outsourcing and technical support outsourcing, with a huge variety of specialized call center partners around the globe, ensuring the ability to find the ideal partner for your specific needs. Outsourcing these functions through TDS Global Solutions makes call center operations simple, exceptional, and affordable. From email and chat support to inbound and outbound calling, TDS Global Solutions has the outsourced team for the job. Contact us today to find out how easy we can make your search for outsourced help desk and technical support!

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