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Merced College Customer Service Academy Wins National Award

January 25, 2005

The Merced College Customer Service Academy was presented with a national award by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) 2004 Leadership Congress in New Orleans, LA October 6.

Lew Braxton and Jonae PistoresiJonae Pistoresi, director of the Customer Service Academy, and Lew Braxton, Merced College Trustee and ACCT Pacific Region Chair, were in attendance to accept the award given for “Economic Development Best Practice”. This award is the first to be given to the Customer Service Academy on the national level and is a testament to the popularity and effectiveness of the program. The Academy has won several statewide awards. ACCT is a not-for-profit association composed of more than 7,000 publicly elected and appointed trustees serving on the 600 governing boards of community, junior and technical colleges in the United States, Canada, and England.

The Customer Service Academy has become a valuable community resource that provides training in key areas of customer service and equips participants with skills that can be applied in their workplace. The Academy training not only builds a bridge of communication, cooperation and teamwork between employers and employees, but also provides the customer and the company with the ultimate benefit; consumer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Six years ago, Pistoresi was teaching business management classes and heard time and again of the issues her students were encountering as customers, employees and employers. She realized there was a need to provide companies with a convenient, cost effective way to train their employees in the soft skills of quality customer service. In January 2001, Pistoresi turned her vision into reality with the creation of the Customer Service Academy. Offered through the Merced College Workplace Learning Resource Center under the direction of Robert Vincelette, the Academy began its initial series of workshops which were enthusiastically received by the community and training was soon provided to businesses and organizations throughout Merced County.

The Customer Service Academy also practices what it preaches; customer service. Pistoresi has created a program that is flexible around the client’s schedule, with workshops conducted at the client’s work place during different hours of the day. The program is continually modified to reflect today’s fast-paced, ever-changing times and currently consists of 10 eight-hour workshops allowing participants to earn half a college unit each, for a total of 5 college units. Instruction in customer service, attitude, communications, conflict resolution, stress and time management, team building, dealing with change, and problem solving are offered. Because the Customer Service Academy is offered through Merced College, costs are kept to a minimum of $13 per course and participants can earn ½ college unit per workshop.

More information on the Customer Service Academy can be obtained on the college’s website at, or call (209) 383-0360.

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