What is a Help Desk? Definition, Key Functions, and the Best Solution

Content Writer
November 12, 2023

Picture a world where every customer query gets sorted with precision and care. This is what a help desk does. 

In today's post, we're breaking down this term to understand how a help desk serves as the liaison between a business and its customers, ensuring issues are addressed and resolved effectively. We'll also look at how a tool like Thena can improve your help desk without the need for expensive customer service software.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

Ready to begin?

What is a help desk? Fundamentals

A help desk is a department or a centralized team within a company that serves as a single point of contact for customer inquiries, troubleshooting, and facilitating the resolution of problems through ticketing systems and knowledge bases.

It is typically staffed by IT professionals, product teams, or administrative personnel to manage and resolve a variety of issues reported by users or to provide technical assistance and guidance.

A help desk can also operate internally, functioning as a dedicated support infrastructure that caters exclusively to an organization's employees or members, managing technical issues, system-related queries, and internal user-specific problems.

How a help desk works

A help desk provides support to users facing issues with products or services. Users contact the help desk through various channels like phone, email, chat, instant messaging platforms, or social media. Technicians or customer service reps diagnose the problem and provide solutions. The goal is to resolve the issue promptly and ensure user satisfaction.

Help desk examples

As mentioned above, help desks can be both external and internal. But they can also serve specific functions. Here are some help desk examples:

  • IT help desk
  • Customer service help desk
  • Software application help desk
  • HR help desk
  • Technical support help desk.

The evolution of the help desk

A decade ago, help desks were predominantly phone-based, reactive support centers focused on resolving technical issues. They were often viewed as cost centers with the primary goal of quick issue resolution. However, over the past decade, they have evolved significantly.

Today's help desks have adapted to meet changing demands, with 74% of customer service leaders reporting an increase in support requests across digital channels. Customer support is now multichannel, integrating email, chat, social media, and self-service portals to provide customers with diverse support options.

The implementation of AI and chatbots has also played a part in streamlining routine tasks, resulting in a significant reduction in response times and enabling human agents to focus on handling complex issues. According to a study conducted by Capgemini, 40% of organizations have already established dedicated teams and technology for employing generative AI in their customer support operations.

Besides, data analytics has become a critical component, allowing companies to gain insights into customer behavior and service performance. Businesses understand that to compete in highly saturated markets they need to leverage data insights. Gartner reports that 84% of customer service leaders believe that customer data and analytics are extremely important for achieving their organizational goals in 2023.

In summary, help desks have evolved from reactive phone-based centers to proactive, multichannel hubs that leverage AI and data analytics.

So, what should you look for in a help desk solution?

Six key features of the help desk

A good help desk needs both helpful agents and solid technology, in addition to a bunch of other components. Let’s break them down:

1. Knowledgeable agents

At the heart of any efficient help desk are the agents who possess extensive knowledge about the company's products or services. Knowledgeable agents are not only well-versed in technical know-how but are also adept at soft skills like communication and empathy. They can diagnose issues swiftly and provide accurate solutions, often with a single interaction.

2. Help desk ticketing system

Agents’ ability to help customers is important. However, you need to equip them with the right technology to do their jobs properly.

A solid help desk ticketing system helps agents organize, prioritize, and manage customer service requests while tracking the lifecycle of a ticket from creation to resolution. 

The most effective help desk solutions offer omnichannel ticketing capabilities, allowing agents to handle customer inquiries seamlessly across multiple platforms. Whether the conversation begins via email, social media, chat, or phone, agents can engage with and resolve customer issues without any disruption.

3. Knowledge base integration

More and more customers want to find answers on their own. Therefore, it’s helpful if your help desk integrates a knowledge base. A knowledge base can house FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and how-to articles, helping customers find the answers they need. This not only enhances customer satisfaction by empowering them to help themselves, but it also decreases the number of support tickets.

4. Customer feedback

A strong help desk should incorporate features that automatically prompt customers to provide feedback after an interaction with a business. For instance, after resolving a ticket, customers could be prompted to rate their experience and provide comments.

Collecting and analyzing this feedback is invaluable as it can highlight patterns and inform decisions that are rooted in actual customer experiences, ultimately helping to elevate the quality of service provided.

Help desk solutions based on AI can even predict customer satisfaction before they take a survey.

5. Analytics

An effective help desk solution should facilitate the collection and monitoring of crucial customer service metrics. This includes data related to both your customers and service agents. By analyzing these metrics, you can make knowledgeable decisions regarding staffing levels, targeted training programs, and refining your customer service processes.

6. Integrations

Like pieces of a puzzle fitting together to create a comprehensive picture, integrations allow help desk agents to tailor their workspace with precision. 

A robust help desk software should seamlessly connect with the tools your team already relies on, such as Slack for communication, Notion for organization, or widely-used CRM solutions like HubSpot or Salesforce. The integrations ensure that agents can work within a familiar environment, enhancing productivity and service quality.

Thena—The ultimate Slack help desk software solution

Thena is a modern ticketing solution built into Slack that automatically picks up customer inquiries as part of Slack conversations. If you’re in the B2B space, Thena is the best solution for serving your customers in the most personalized way.

Let’s take a look at its core features.

Ticket management

First off, let's talk about support tickets. With Thena, starting and managing tickets within Slack is a breeze.

Suppose a customer voices a concern in a Slack message. Thena immediately converts that message into an interactive ticket. As part of this, customers get to track the progress of their issues, and your support team stays focused on providing solutions, all within the context of the conversation.


Nobody wants to do manual and repetitive work, right? With Thena’s powerful Slack workflow engine, you can automate a bunch of tasks, from ticket creation and escalations to status updates. You're just a few clicks (or Slack emojis) away from automating your issue resolution on Slack!

Knowledge base utilization

Thena harnesses cutting-edge AI technology to elevate its knowledge base capabilities. It can automatically create smart responses for your customers by tapping into a large pool of historical data. You can even edit the responses to make them as refined and accurate as possible.

The advantage is clear: AI-driven support ensures that customer inquiries are addressed 24/7, automating your help desk workflows and providing assistance even when your team is not around.


Thena automates all the customer service analytics tracking to show your leadership team how your team is doing. Track trends in first-response times, resolution times, ticket volume, and agent performance.

But that’s not it.

Why Thena excels in help desk software

Thena truly stands out as an exceptional help desk software solution due to its ability to:

  • Dramatically reduce response times: Thena's conversational ticketing system cuts response times by 95% and simplifies the triage for service agents. Quick replies and a robust knowledge base keep customers well-informed and happy while Kanban boards provide full visibility to your service agents.
  • Improve customer interactions: With Thena, customer service interactions never feel robotic. As your customers converse with you over Slack, Thena uses AI to automatically flag customer requests, and determine their urgency, and actionable next steps. This way, your customers always feel cared for.
  • Integrate with other business tools: Thena links up with your preferred tools in just one click! Whether it's CRM, project management, or sales tools, Thena provides a suite of smart integrations, enabling you to streamline your workflows for optimal team performance.

Adapt to evolving customer support needs: Help desks are constantly evolving. With Thena, you can stay ahead of the curve thanks to its customization capabilities.

Help Desk Comparison: Communication & Ticketing

FeatureZendeskFreshdeskHelp ScoutJira Service
Communication ChannelsEmail, Phone, Chat, Social MediaEmail, Phone, Chat, Social MediaEmail, Chat, Live Chat, SMSEmail, ChatSlack
Ticket CreationManual & AutomatedManual & AutomatedManual & AutomatedManualAutomatic (Slack messages)
Conversation ThreadingYesYesYesYesYes (within Slack)
Internal Collaboration ToolsYesYesYesYesYes (within Slack channels & mentions)
Knowledge Base IntegrationYesYesYesYesYes (integrates with existing KB)
Self-Service PortalYesYesYesYesN/A (Leverages Slack for self-service)
AI-powered FeaturesLimitedLimitedSome (e.g., Canned Responses)Advanced (e.g., Ticket Classification, Smart Suggestions)Advanced (Automatic Ticket Creation, Smart Responses, Knowledge Base Integration)

Real-world success stories

Thena has already turned the tide for numerous companies. Have a look at these success stories to understand why Thena is the go-to Slack help desk solution:

  • Mixpanel: Before Thena, a leading analytics platform, Mixpanel, struggled with its help desk solution as it failed to integrate customer inquiries coming from different channels. After the implementation of Thena, the company was able to centralize its help desk operations, cutting resolution times in half and response times by 95%.
  • A UK-based incident management company struggled with managing its growing Slack-based customer support. As their customer base diversified, monitoring requests and assessing team workload became challenging. By adopting Thena, they saw improved response times and customer satisfaction. Additionally, Thena's analytics boosted their capacity planning strategies.

The takeaway

Wrapping this up, a help desk is your frontline of customer interactions. With the Slack help desk, that line is well-equipped, always on, and ready to turn problems into high-fives.

Whether your company is scaling up or already sitting comfortably in the enterprise bracket, a Slack-based help desk is a move towards responsive, integrated, and yes, affordable customer service.

Try Thena at no cost to start serving your customers on Slack.

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