What is a Help Desk Specialist?

Cassie L. Damewood

A help desk specialist is an employee whose main responsibilities are generally to answer customer inquiries and resolve complaints. The questions and concerns posed to him are normally related to sales of services or goods. They may also be of a technical nature. Although, traditionally a phone contact, a help desk specialist is also a common point of customer contact for inquiries and concerns communicated by mail, fax, e-mail or in person. The position is found in most companies that provide consumer services or sell goods to consumers, retailers or wholesalers.

Help desk specialists answer employee questions and resolve complaints.
Help desk specialists answer employee questions and resolve complaints.

Whether a help desk specialist provides assistance in the resolution of a wide range of problems or specializes in a particular area, he is commonly expected to be able to satisfy customer needs. If he does not have an answer readily available, he is typically expected to know how to research the topic and correctly reply in a time frame agreeable to the consumer. In cases where the specialist isn't able to help the customer, he is customarily required to refer the matter to a better informed associate or superior.

A help desk specialist may handle customer inquiries over the phone.
A help desk specialist may handle customer inquiries over the phone.

To excel in this position, a help desk specialist is ordinarily required to regularly seek out educational resources within the company to keep current on products and services. The customer is often informed on a company’s new offerings before the employees, so aggressive self-education is normally required to be helpful and able to fully address concerns. This information may be obtained through online research of the organization. Studying internal company materials regarding new product developments or plans to extend the company’s service offerings are often useful as well.

Large companies frequently require a help desk specialist to promote sales as well as address questions and concerns. The specialist may also be responsible for tracking the nature of customer inquiries and gathering profiling data. This information is normally used to improve employee training to better serve consumers and enhance marketing efforts.

Patience and compassion are typically traits of a successful help desk specialist. Customers are often unclear in their inquiries or their frustration, which may make them anxious or demanding. A specialist who can effectively calm a customer and discern their problem is normally a highly-valued employee.

Good organizational skills are also helpful attributes for a help desk specialist. He is customarily required to keep detailed records of his interactions. This documentation normally includes the frequency of inquiries, the nature of questions and complaints and the rate of resolution.

No formal education is normally required for this position. A high school diploma or equivalent is a common prerequisite. A solid background in oral and written communications and customer service is preferred. Most companies provide in-house training to help desk specialists prior to their initial customer contact. Some specialized help-desk jobs, such as information technology help desks, may require a bachelor's degree or special certifications in the field.

Help desk specialists might help people who are having technical issues.
Help desk specialists might help people who are having technical issues.

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Discussion Comments


I want to know if this service desk specialist job is in a bpo domain or in some other domain?


Sunny27- I also wanted to add that a help desk support technician logs trouble tickets and usually have a standard timeframe in which they need to resolve their problem calls.

They usually use software like PC Anywhere in order to gain access to the user’s computer and diagnose the problem.

Common problems include network connectivity issues, frozen screens, and applications not loading correctly.

Sometimes a help desk technician will perform a system restore event which will eliminate current problems and restore the functioning of the computer to a previous date.


A help desk support specialist requires a great degree of confidence because users will call with technical problems and you'll have to walk them through the issue. Since they'll probably be impatient - aren't we all when our computer's not functioning properly - the help desk worker can feel the resulting stress.

Support calls can be categorized by tier: tier one, tier two, or tier three. As the tier levels get higher so do the complexity of the calls....and probably the associated stress! Generally the level three support calls require the most experienced help desk analysts because the problems fall outside of the scope of what a level one or level two help desk technician would be able to do.

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