What Does Helpdesk Support Do? (Common Responsibilities)

Updated 7 September 2023

Helpdesk support is a department within a company or organisation that helps clients with their problems or new purchases. They usually focus on information technology, but can also provide help in other areas like damage to products or returns. If you're interested in becoming a helpdesk support representative, learning more about what they do can be beneficial. In this article, we explain what helpdesk support does, list the important skills helpdesk representatives need, answer common questions about helpdesk support careers and provide helpful tips for being successful as a helpdesk support representative.

Related: Top 20 Customer Service Skills

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What does helpdesk support do?

Learning the answer to 'what does helpdesk support do?' can help you determine if you want to pursue a career in this area. Helpdesk support is a department within a company that manages customer issues and facilitates solutions. Helpdesk support usually focuses on information technology issues and remedies. They can also help with returns, damage to products, misunderstandings about functions and explaining new features for services. A helpdesk can also help clients learn more about their subscriptions or fees. These are some common duties that helpdesk support manages:

  • greet new customers and guests

  • perform efficient troubleshooting tasks

  • find solutions for customer issues

  • provide guidance to customers with problems

  • communicate with other support experts

  • manage communication with clients

  • learn about company policy and products

Related: What Is Good Customer Service? Definition and Guidelines

Important skills for helpdesk support representatives

Improving your skills as a helpdesk support representative can improve your performance and potentially increase your earnings. To improve skills, some helpdesk representatives pursue relevant certifications or gain more professional experience. These are some important skills for helpdesk support representatives:

Technology skills

Helpdesk representatives work with technology to communicate with clients and provide them with the help they need. The representatives also use technical skills to assess computer problems and help clients remedy them. Helpdesk support representatives can develop their technology skills by completing formal education or on-the-job training. They consistently learn more about new technologies to ensure they can help clients efficiently.

Related: What Computer Skills Are Employers Seeking (Plus Examples)


Many clients who contact the helpdesk don't understand their computers and may struggle to articulate the problems they experience. Helpdesk support representatives use their skills in patience to help these clients learn more about their technology and identify the problems they face. Excellent communication and empathy help the representatives remain patient during difficult situations. On the phone and in-person, helpdesk representatives use their patience to improve the client's experience with the company.

Related: Emotional Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Active listening

Active listening is a communication skill that helpdesk representatives can use to show clients they're listening. To do this, representatives nod or take notes while a client is speaking to show their attention. Over the phone, the representative may make small noises of affirmation as the client explains their issues. This communicates to the client that their problems are valid and the representative is genuinely interested in helping them. Helpdesk representatives use active listening to retain customers and improve client experience.

Related: Listening Skills: Definition, Importance and How to Practise

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to assess a problem, identify the issues and suggest viable solutions. This is important for helpdesk representatives because they use critical thinking to find remedies for client problems. They can gather information about the issue by talking to the client, and then implement solutions by troubleshooting with the customer. This can include solutions like restarting systems and checking for loose wires. When problems are challenging to solve, helpdesk representatives may work together and combine their critical thinking skills to solve them.

Read more: 9 Essential Critical Thinking Skills and How To Develop Them

Research abilities

It's important that helpdesk support representatives can learn more about topics or problems they don't understand helping clients. If a client presents an issue the representative hasn't heard of before, they can use the internet and other resources to learn more about the issue. Research skills also help them learn more about new systems when they are released so the representative can help clients successfully install and operate them.

Read more: Research Skills: Definition, Examples and Importance

Positive attitude

Support representatives may work with dissatisfied customers, so maintaining a positive attitude is important. It allows the representative to influence the client to return in the future and improves their perception of the company. To maintain a positive attitude, representatives can focus on calming exercises and smiling when on the phone with clients.

Related: What Is Interpersonal Communication and Why Is It Important?

FAQ about helpdesk support functions

Learning more about how helpdesks work and what representatives do can help you determine if you want to pursue this as a career. What the work environment is like, how much representatives earn and the benefits of a great helpdesk are all important factors to consider. These are the answers to some common questions about helpdesk support careers:

What is the work environment like for helpdesk representatives?

The work environment for helpdesk representatives can depend on where they work. Some representatives work in person and interact with clients and their computers hands-on. Other representatives work online and help clients over the phone or chat, which can make it more difficult to identify problems and communicate effectively. Help desk support representatives may occasionally experience difficult or upset clients, which makes patience and empathy very important in the workplace.

Related: What Is a Receptionist? (Definition, Duties and Skills)

Do all companies have helpdesk support?

Not all companies offer helpdesk support for their clients. Usually, larger companies can offer helpdesk support because they have the resources available to do so. Smaller companies may combine their information technology and helpdesk teams and professionals, tasking them with different responsibilities. Many large technology and service companies focus on implementing effective helpdesk support to ensure their clients feel cared for and can access the help they need at all times.

Related: What Does Help Desk Support Do? (With Requirements and FAQs)

What are the benefits of helpdesk support?

Implementing effective helpdesk support can ensure dissatisfied clients receive the help they need and stay loyal to the company. It can improve client and user experiences and enhance a technology or service company's reputation. Working as a helpdesk support representative can also be helpful because it allows you to determine when major failures happen in the system due to frequent or sudden influxes of calls to the helpdesk support.

Related: What Does IT Support Do (With Steps to Enter the Profession)

What makes a good helpdesk?

What makes a good helpdesk can vary depending on the specialisation and company. Many businesses believe good helpdesks have great representatives who put the client first and focus on excellent customer service. Helpdesk representatives with outstanding empathy, patience and communication can effectively work with customers and help them solve their technology problems. As a helpdesk representative, you can develop these qualities and skills to provide superior service to clients as you work.

How much do helpdesk support representatives make?

How much a helpdesk representative can earn depends on their education, experience and location. The average base salary for a helpdesk representative is $2,425 per month or $34,244 per year. Other factors, like employer, bonuses and overtime can also affect how much a support representative can make. To earn more, the representative can pursue promotions and raises and increase their skills and performance.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate’s experience, academic background and location.

Related: What Is a Customer Relations Manager? (With Average Salary)

Tips for becoming a successful helpdesk professional

You can use helpful tips to improve your success as a helpdesk support professional. These are some tips you can use to become a successful helpdesk professional:

  • Practise providing instructions: Providing simple instructions is a useful communication skill that representatives can focus on improving to be more successful. Understanding how to use small steps and checking with the client to ensure they're following is important for representatives.

  • Refresh your knowledge: Representatives can frequently refresh their knowledge on different technologies to ensure they deliver the right information to clients. This can include reading about new updates for software or revisiting older technologies that clients may still use.

  • Ask for constructive feedback: Constructive feedback from clients can help you determine how to improve your help and improve your instructions and troubleshooting. Consider asking for feedback from clients by offering a survey or speaking with them directly after offering assistance.

  • Pursue relevant certifications: Depending on your helpdesk tasks and specialisations, you may pursue certifications to improve your qualifications and enhance your application materials. Consider education-based certifications to improve your skills and knowledge of technology.

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