When you own or operate a business, your customers are your lifeblood, and it's important to treat them well so they will continue to come back. If you have a difficult employee who is rude or disrespectful to customers, you must learn how to effectively deal with the situation before it affects the success of your business over the long-term. Although it isn't always easy to deal with difficult employees, there are certain steps you can follow to ensure you handle the situation diplomatically and eliminate possible future issues.

Confront the employee about his behavior immediately. It is never a good idea to ignore inappropriate employee behavior, according to corporate trainer and productivity coach, David Mount of Core Training Solutions. Take your employee aside to speak with him in a private, one-on-one setting, and ask him about the behavior you witnessed. It's possible the employee may not have realized how he came across to the customer, or he may have had a one-time moment of weakness. Let the employee know that being rude to customers is not permitted regardless of the circumstances, and indicate the resulting consequences should the behavior continue.

Conduct some role-playing exercises with the employee immediately after the incident, or in the days that follow. Teach the employee how you would like him to react to customers and respond to customer requests. Ask the employee if he is unclear about any of the demands or expectations of his position, and talk with him about whether or not he has any other concerns or problems that may be affecting his current job performance. Work with the employee to rectify any issues so he may perform at his best going forward.

Monitor the employee's behavior to determine whether or not there is any improvement. Issue a written warning to the employee if the behavior continues, and remind the employee of the possible consequences he faces. Document your conversation by providing the employee with a copy of the written warning, and ask him to acknowledge receipt of the paperwork with his signature. Should the employee continue to be difficult and rude to customers, you may be forced to exercise your right to terminate his position with your company.