NEW YORK: Brands which have the correct procedures and protocols in place can turn social media and PR crises into opportunities for showing off their superior customer service skills, a leading executive from Microsoft has argued.

Kristina Libby, the organisation's consumer public relations communications lead, discussed this subject during a webinar held by Social Media Today.

And having fulfilled such duties on behalf of products like Microsoft's Windows operating system, she has gained first-hand experience of customer blowback on social media - whether justified or not.

"Both in social media and in public relations, I think this is one of those moments where brands really have this chance to shine," said Libby. (For more, including further tips, read Warc's exclusive report: Preparing for a brand crisis: Tips from Microsoft.)

"I think a moment of crisis is when you really have a chance to show off the customer service work that you've done."

Among the guidelines she outlined were trying to anticipate potential pain points, brainstorming responses, establishing a crisis-communication team and tapping social-media monitoring systems.

Perhaps most important, however, is underpinning all such activities with a clear emphasis on the brand's core values - which, ultimately, requires putting the customer first.

"I believe pretty strongly in authenticity," said Libby. "Be really authentic to who your brand is. Which means that you need to know what your company story is long before a crisis arises.

"You need to know who you want to be with the world, how you want the world to see you, and then be able to authentically convey that information."

From that starting point, brand custodians can then stress test their crisis-management procedures to ensure they are fully prepared should the worst occur.

"Practice and repeat and practice again - that's the easiest way when a crisis arises to make sure you are thinking: how do you protect your customer? How do you protect your company?" she said.

"But [do it] in that order, because as a business, we're all here to be focused on the customer; to be customer-centric."

Data sourced from Warc