Small business owners should always keep one thing in mind if they want customers to keep coming back: remember to thank them, as often as possible. 

It is rare that businesses thank their customers for the sole purpose of simply thanking them. Often there is some sort of self-serving motive, or at least that is the impression that many consumers have. If you make thanking customers a priority, you will surely set your small business apart from the competition. Business owners who communicate that they are appreciative of the consumer's patronage will set a foundation for future transactions. Small business owners should always be thinking about how to thank the customer, and for those of you who feel a little short on ideas, below are four tips to help out:

1. Thank them by rewarding them
One way to show your appreciation is by rewarding the customer in some way for their patronage. Sending a gift card, free branded merchandise or tickets to a local event can be a great way to show consumers that you care what they think and recognize how much their business is worth. A study featured in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that waiters received a 21 percent larger tip when they left two mints with the customer. Small gifts can go a long way in people's minds, so don't overlook them as useless. 

2. Stay in touch after the purchase
Checking in with the customers is another great way to show that you care about them and appreciate it when they come around, Shopify recommended. Keep in touch regularly with those who frequent your store, even something as simple as a quick email means something. Adding a personal touch to the correspondence is definitely helpful though – acknowledging a birthday for instance, will probably go a long way. Keeping in touch works especially well with customers who make what is called "habit-forming" purchases – when someone buys a product that will ensure they return again for a similar transaction, such as a guitar player who returns to Guitar Center consistently for strings and picks. 

3. Show your appreciate by spending time with customers
One way to show you care about the people who visit your store is to spend time with them, Pardot suggested. Getting in-person time in with your customers is a great way for you to hear what they think of your products, update them on what's to come for your business and make sure you're constantly aware of what they want as consumers. You can set-up events for people who frequent your business or make time for them at an occasion that you are not sponsoring. Investing your time in customers will show them that you care about them as much as their money. 

4. Make a point to show you care about even the smallest details
Great customer service depends on putting effort into solving even the smallest of problems for customers, Shopify explained. Always indulge an individual's request if you can in order to show him or her that you care about the smallest details, even if doing so isn't directly beneficial to your business. 

"A lot of people have fancy things to say about customer service," Chris McCormick, president and CEO of L.L. Bean said, according to Shopify. "But it's just a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, persevering, compassionate kind of activity."

Keep the above advice in mind in order to show customers you care, and that you're always ready to help them out whether it be tossing out some business banking tips to an aspiring fellow entrepreneur or sending a gift card to a frequent visitor, always make sure you're showing your appreciation.