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Key Differences between Call Center and Help Desk

Have you ever faced the dilemma of choosing where to direct your complaints between the help desk and the call center? This is a common occurrence whenever you have a faulty product and are trying to get help. 

Help desks and call centers have often been erroneously lumped together. This has been going on for years among customers seeking company support channels. Help desks and call centers might have the same fundamental scope, but their roles differ. 

In a world where the help desk handles ticket management and offers a single point of contact, the call center features order processing, basic technical assistance, and others. 

Understanding the key differences between these important entities is vital to navigating customer support. Hence, the a need to explore how each system works and the differences in their operations. 

What Is a Call Center?


There is no one-size-fits-all call center definition because of many views and opinions about this system. However, the most generally acceptable definition is attached to how it handles large volumes of inbound and outbound calls. 

It would be restrictive to place a call center to just phone call function alone. The call center is the nerve center of a company's operations. It is the first line of contact when customers encounter issues or try to learn more about your product or service. A deeper view of call centers involves sales and marketing functions, customer support data collection, etc.

Furthermore, the emergence of technology has also opened up another dimension in call centers. Nowadays, we have seen the adaptation of interactive voice responses and email and chat support into call center processes. 

These cutting-edge technologies have brought enormous possibilities like personalized customer service, self-service, and integrated support channels. In essence, the call center is crucial in achieving robust and effective customer service through a centralized network. 

Types of Call Centers 

Contrary to people’s perception, call centers are too diverse to handle today’s dynamic communication styles. The world is changing, and the pegging of call centers to just outbound and inbound types is getting outdated. 

We are in a technological age where tech is taking precedence. This opens up the rapid evolution of call center automation to omnichannel call centers. Also, the aftermath of the pandemic brought about a needed change to the entire call center process. 

We have seen the possibilities of outsourced call center processes that are located in another country. Looking at these examples, we must dissect the types of call centers to help you select the most suitable one for your business. 

  1. 1. Classifications By Call Direction. 

This classification includes the following types of call centers: inbound, outbound, and blended. Inbound call centers are the calls that confusing or distressed customers initiate. These types of call centers require well-versed agents in problem-solving and product knowledge. 

The outbound calls center focuses on making sales-focused calls to prospective customers. This call is done to persuade customers to buy a product or service or conduct surveys and other marketing research activities. Agents handling this type of call should have persuasion and good communication skills. 

Lastly, a blended call center involves merging both inbound and outbound call center functions. This type of call center requires adaptability and flexibility to fit into both call directions. 

  1. 2. Classification by Types of Communication Technology 

Remember, we are in a technology age where call centers transcend beyond phone calls. This reality allows us to classify call center types into automated and Omnichannel. 

Automated call center involves the use of interactive voice response for customer service. An interactive voice response system helps actual or self-service functioning, where a menu guides customers to solve problems. 

On the other hand, Omnichannel call centers manage every communication channel under one network. This allows the call center to collect emails, social media messaging, voice calls, and others through a single dashboard. 

  1. 3. Classification by Location and Management 

We can also categorize call centers into in-house and outsourced processes. An outsourced call center involves subcontracting your entire call center operation to a third party. This process is highly cost-effective and allows you to enjoy diverse expertise.  Helport contact center BPO is the perfect option for you to enjoy these benefits. 

On the other hand, we have an in-house call center. This type of call center is the most common one that the company owns and operates itself. The underside of this is the cost of setting up and ongoing management. 

What Is a Help Desk?


The help desk is a centralized problem-solving hub for the company employees and customers. The help desk ensures the smooth running of the company operations. They carry out all the herbal fixes related to the technological components of a company. 

Without a help desk, solving technological-related issues like software malfunctioning, password reset, and software training would be impossible. The functionality of the help desk is quite enormous. 

This important department oversees the organization's internal processes via email, chat, self-service portals, etc. 

Types of Help Desk 

The help desk features an extensive range of options catering to all tasks. Understanding this is important to choose the suitable option for your organization's structure and specific needs. 

  1. 1. Internal and External Help Desk. 

The internal help desk oversees the uninterrupted running of the organization. This type of help desk provides support for employees who require tech-related assistance. 

External help desk is another essential type that caters to customers' needs. This type of help desk ensures customers get the best possible aid anytime they require technical assistance. 

  1. 2. On-premises and cloud-based Helpdesk 

On-premise help desks are the most prevalent type of help desk that companies use to manage themselves. This type of help desk relies on internal software installations for help desk operations. 

The cloud-based help desk is the modern one launched on a remote server outside the purview of organizations. This type of help desk relies on the Internet to function and carry out its operations. 

  1. 3. Basic and Enterprise Help Desk 

The basic help desk oversees basic troubleshooting, ticketing systems, password reset, and other basic customer problems. The enterprise help desk on the other hand carries out extensive and advanced business support services. Their role involves self-service portals, IT infrastructure management, reporting and analytics tools, etc. 

What Is the Difference Between a Call Center and a Help Desk?

So, you have read a quick overview of what the call center and help desk entails. You can see the differences between their service scope, types, and functions. To deepen your understanding of what the Helpdesk and call center entail, we have created the following table as a quick breakdown. 


Call Center

Help Desk


Customer inquiries and requests (both technical and non-technical)

Internal and external  technical support for employees and customers


External customers only

Internal and external users (employees and customers)


Strong communication and interpersonal skills, basic technical knowledge

Strong technical knowledge and problem-solving skills

Primary Communication Channel

Phone calls (may include email, chat, and social media)

Phone calls, email, chat, self-service portals, ticketing systems

Examples of Issues Handled

Product information, order placements, troubleshooting, billing inquiries, general customer service

Hardware and software problems, password resets, software training, user account issues

Overall Goal

Provide efficient and personalized customer service

Ensure smooth operation and user productivity by resolving technical issues while at the same time maintaining good quality user experience. 

Call Center vs Help Desk: How To Choose

We understand the complexity that you might face when choosing between the call center and the help desk. Various considerations can influence your choice. 

However, it’s not as deep as it might look if you can keep your house in order and thread with the differences outlined above. The following are the factors to consider when making your decision. 

  1. 1. Your Target Audience 

This is the most important factor that should take precedence over any others. You must ask yourself, “Who am I doing this for?” Are you trying to cater to your customers alone, or are you looking to solve your internal stakeholders? These are the essential questions that will shed light on your decisions. 

For instance, you should go to the help desk if you are trying to solve internal and external tech-related problems. At the same time, a call center should be your choice if you focus on solving customer problems and other related services alone. 

  1. 2. Types of Support You Plan to Offer 

If your support process is limited to technical ones alone, you should go for help desk service. Conversely, if you are targeting a broader range of support like billing, troubleshooting, and general customer service, you should go to a call center. 

  1. 3. Budget

This is another consideration that you should look at. You should assess your budget and organizational financial capacity to determine your choice. 

A cloud-based help desk is a cost-effective option for resolving technical issues. At the same time, you should outsource your BPO contact center services to Helport for affordable and personalized customer service solutions. 

Final Thought

The call center and help desks serve vital customer support services, but they still have various distinctions. The help desk is more technical inclined because it oversees the smooth running of your operations through timely fixes of technical-related issues. 

However, the help desk is more targeted at organizational stakeholders. There has been a systemic adaptability of help desk functions to satisfy customers. Conversely, call centers focused on actualizing a productive customer service experience. Call center functioning is targeted at customers alone. Its role includes handling customer inquiries, lead generations, and many others. 

Understanding their distinctions is a strategic step to ensure you choose the best solution for your business. In some instances where you require the functionality of help desks and call centers, you can leverage the two to achieve technical and customer support services. 

Related reading: 10 Best Call Center Software In 2024

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