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Warm welcome melts ICE image

MAKING THE ICE's headquarters at One Great George Street a warm and welcoming place is the prime aim of house manager Steve McKie.

In the year since he joined the ICE staff McKie has been putting his previous experience in the world of hotel management to good use, ensuring that the Institution makes the grade.

Members appear far from happy with ICE's grand headquarters. The building scored low marks with the Future Framework Presidential Commission which branded it as 'lacking in warmth and friendliness'.

McKie says this fear of One Great George Street may stem from many members' first experience of the building when they sat their professional reviews. 'But we do want to make it more approachable.'

He reckons that service is 'pretty good' already. 'But we are not presuming anything.'

During 1997 fresh flowers appeared in the lobby, the floors were polished more regularly and ICE's small team of commissionaires given a make-over with new jackets and clear name badges. 'The building must look secure, being in the heart of Westminster,' explains McKie. 'But we must make sure the commissionaires approach everyone and welcome them with a smile.'

Complaints that it is difficult for first time visitors to find their way around prompted the erection of a new noticeboard in the foyer explaining where all function rooms are located.

McKie wants to ensure service is even better in 1998. Questionnaires are about to be distributed to visitors to gauge their impressions of the place. 'We will analyse the results and see what else needs to be done.'

And to keep staff really on their toes, McKie will be drafting in volunteers to act as 'mystery guests' who will be asked to give an unbiased opinion on the building.

Departments - such as catering, room hire and the members' business centre - will then be set top ten targets for service standards.

He estimates that well over 100,000 people visited One Great George Street during the last year. 'Our overall aim is to make the building look as good as possible and to have excellent customer service for all people coming through the front door,' says McKie.

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