The #1 person in your company is your frontline staff. You take care of them, they will take care of the customer. You don't take care of them, they won't take care of the customer. Plain and simple.
But how do you take care of them?
Salary and benefits are nice. Other perks like a parking place, uniforms, an employee lounge, are helpful. But those are simply the starting points. Even the ping pong tables and video games and perceived fun that places like Google brag about only go so far.
What your frontline employees really want is to know that they are valued and they create value for others.
In an interview Google did with its employees, what the employees valued most was, “even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.” (source)
Your staff wants to know you value them as individuals and as team members. There are three easy things you can do right now that will show your staff how much you value them.
First, invest in education and training. The more you do to help them become better employees and better people, the more you show them that they are important to you. You should be training them anyway. But are you offering continual training? Are you offering advanced training? Are you offering personal training? Are you preparing them for work above and beyond their current responsibilities? The more you invest, the more valued they will feel (and the better trained and capable they will be).
Second, listen. Listen to their concerns. Listen to their stories. Take an interest in their lives, in what motivates them. They are giving you clues every time they knock on your door and say, "Got a minute?"
Whenever possible, say YES and turn away from your computer, your catalog, your phone. Give them exclusive one-on-one time where they have your complete, undivided attention. Your body language alone sends a powerful message that you value them as an individual.
Third, praise them. People love to be praised. People love to be told they did something right. Our favorite word to hear is our own name spoken lovingly. When someone does something well, praise them openly and in front of others. Not only will they continue to do well, the other staff will raise their own game in an effort to get that same praise.
Do those three things and your frontline staff will feel valued. Only then will they be able to make your customers feel valued, too.
PS There is a great book on motivation called Drive by Daniel H. Pink. I highly recommend you read it.