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Office Hack #42 — Square’s Beta Test Hack

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Square is a mobile payment company revolutionizing the way businesses operate. If you live in the US, Japan or Canada, chances are you’ve used Square (often via an iPad) to buy a coffee, fresh local veggies or maybe a hand-carved canoe.

By all accounts, it’s a pretty slick service. But to get, and stay that slick, Square must continually improve and evolve its products. This involves beta testing new ideas and features.

beta test noun> • software testing in which a sampling of the intended audience tries out a new product or feature

Square found an ingenious way of beta testing while also supporting local businesses in the San Francisco area, and staying connected to its customers.

This is Square’s beta test hack.

Square could have just set up a generic coffee bar and cafeteria in their head office. Instead, the company considered having each space serve multiple purposes.

First, they drew up an arrangement with one of their favourite coffee roasters: Andytown.

Andytown moved in and established a permanent shop within Square’s office with an agreement to let Square beta test new features with them.

Next up: a lunch vendor. Square approached Wise Sons Deli to see if they too would come aboard with the same arrangement.

“…when we’re able to interact with sellers and our products live inside this space it proves to be a really great opportunity for us to test our products live, to understand what’s working, what’s not, and to make updates in the moment to make sure that we’re producing the best product for our customers.” Chris Gorman, Head of Office Experience, Square

There are benefits for the vendors too. They have a direct feedback line to those who design and maintain their payment system, as well as a steady flow of dependable daily customers.

Although Square couldn’t elaborate on which features are or had been beta-tested on its in-house vendors, it’s clear the situation is a win-win for all.

“It was an amazing opportunity for us to learn directly from John and team here at Andytown in terms of what was working and what was not, and be able to work through those pain points prior to taking it to the public.” Chris Gorman, Head of Office Experience, Square