The Service Desk

Ironically, the Service Desk always seems to be listed as the first ITIL core process, yet it is a function rather than a process. The Service Desk can be known by many names, such as Help Desk, Support Desk, Client Service, etc. Its mission is to function as the primary window for customer and user contact with the service organization on a day-to-day basis. The Service Desk is responsible for a number of discrete functions within the support organization, including:

    • Single Point of Contact
    • Incident Classification
    • Incident Control
    • Incident Reporting and Review

Single point of contact for customers

The Service Desk provides a day-to-day contact point between customers, users, IT services and third party support organisations. At an operational level, its objective is to provide a single point of contact to provide advice, guidance and may also be involved in providing a rapid restoration of normal services to its customers and users’ following any service disruption.

Incident Classification

Incident classification is an important role of the Service Desk. The final classification(s) of an incident may vary to the initially reported one. The customer / user often reports a ‘symptom’ of the incident and not necessarily the root problem. However, the incident classification process should not be over-complicated by adding too many classifications.

Incident Control

The Service Desk should own the incident control process and monitor progress on all incidents regardless of origin.

Incident Reporting and Review

The Service Desk forms the main day-to-day interface between the Service Delivery organisation and the users. Whilst the Service Desk plays an active role as a  communication channel for incident control, it  also provides a contact point  for inquiries on general service issues (including advice on progress on prior reported incidents / problems) and the dissemination of relevant information (e.g. via bulletins, system messages, etc).


Traditionally, the service desk has been thought of as a call center accepting telephone calls from end-users. Increasingly however, the service desk is responding to web or email communications from customers and automated alerts and events generated by monitoring systems. Organizations frequently assess their service desks to determine where they reside on the maturity spectrum.

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