The World Wide Web is one of the most important Internet services, and has been largely responsible for the phenomenal growth of the Internet in recent years. An increasingly popular and important Web-based activity is ECommerce, in which various types of financial transactions are carried out or facilitated using the Web. It is widely expected that E-Commerce activity will continue to grow and that it will be a significant component of the global economy in the near future. A number of performance problems in E-Commerce systems have been observed, mainly due to heavier-thananticipated loads and the consequent inability to satisfy customer requirements. This has resulted in a lot of work attempting to characterise the performance of Web servers and Internet applications e.g. −. However the customers of these E-Commerce systems are less well studied. Some surveys show considerable dissatisfaction with current E-Commerce and Web servers; for example, it has been reported that as many as 60% of users typically cannot find the information they are looking for in a Web site, even though the information is present . In an area such as ECommerce, customers demand a high quality of the service they receive, since it is easy to move away to another site if they perceive the current one to be unsatisfactory. An important issue in designing E-Commerce systems is to characterise the customer's requirements for satisfactory service. Parameters which affect a customer's satisfaction with an E-Commerce system include the response time, number of clicks needed to find what they want, amount of information they are required to give, and predictability of the service received. This leads to the idea of customer classification, where customers in the same class would value parameters in a similar fashion. Customer classification may be performed either based on how they judge their satisfaction with an E-Commerce system, or on some other way (e.g. large/medium/small budget; type/speed of Internet connection the customer has to the server; frequent/previous/new customer). Here we briefly present a methodology for measuring the satisfaction of customer classes. This methodology is applied to a test case consisting of three Irish E-Commerce Web sites in the telecommunications sector. We are able to demonstrate different levels of customer satisfaction among the Web sites, and also different levels of satisfaction with various parameters for each individual Web site.
In our methodology, we identify customer classes reflecting groups of customers with different behavioural characteristics, and Web site parameters relating to features of the Web site which will potentially affect customer satisfaction. We then seek to measure customer satisfaction with the various parameters in a consistent and quantifiable way. This methodology is summarised below; a more detailed discussion of the methodology may be found in . 2.1)...