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Graphic of a bank with shaking hands Graphics by Sarah Rose Greenberg

Transactions don’t have to sacrifice human connection

After living through an age of all-remote everything, we’re upping the value of a personal touch

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Human beings are hard-wired to connect. The drive for social connection is not only one of our oldest instincts — neuroscientists believe it may be a primary driver of our evolution. The “social brain theory” holds that humans evolved brains which are unusually large for our body size to support the cognitive demands of living in complex social groups. With brains built to connect, humans could live, cooperate, and innovate together, mastering challenging environments and spreading across the globe.

Even now, our brains reward us for connecting, releasing feel-good chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin in response to positive social interactions. People who feel socially connected report better self-esteem and lower rates of anxiety and depression.

While the rise of digital technologies made everything from work and shopping to banking and socializing more convenient, it hasn’t changed our inbuilt need for real-life interactions. In a 2018 survey, 42 percent of U.S. adults said they preferred in-person forms of communication to digital ones, and the last several years have perhaps only deepened our desire for contact. In a 2022 survey, 32 percent of U.S. adults reported feeling “overwhelmed” by technology, and there’s a growing sense that while digital works great for some things, there’s real value in doing things face-to-face — and without a screen between us.

For areas of life that feel deeply personal, this need for connection becomes even more crucial. Take money for example: how we feel about it can have real effects on our quality of life. A 2020 survey found that 73 percent of people reported that finances were their number-one cause of stress — and that this stress affected their physical and mental well-being. Which is why managing our money may be one of those areas where a personal touch matters most. It makes sense to handle quotidian banking tasks — like checking your balance, or making a monthly loan payment — online or with a quick tap of your app. But even in a digital world, some tasks benefit from the sense of connection and customized service you can only get face-to-face.

A 2019 survey showed that the vast majority — nearly 80 percent — of people who primarily use online or mobile banking, still visit a branch for some banking needs. It’s one reason why TD Bank is bringing the human touch back to banking, with more options for banking in your community, convenient hours, personalized services, and a larger philosophy of seeing the human behind the transaction.

There was a time when all banking happened face-to-face. Well, that or via a nifty pneumatic tube. Now, mobile and online banking has made many tasks faster and easier than ever before. But sometimes, asking a human is simply the fastest way to get what you need — just ask your coworker who IMs you, “where is that doc again?” instead of . . . searching for the doc.

That’s why TD Bank is making banking more local, more convenient, and more human with longer hours**, locations in almost every community, and customer-friendly services like community support and money guidance when you need it.

Take the very-human matter of mistakes, for example: we all make them, and it turns out they may be key to our learning and adapting. Neuroscientists have discovered that when we make a mistake, our brains produce a specialized electrical response called Error-Related Negativity, or ERN. This helps us better understand our errors, and encourages us to slow down so we don’t make the same missteps again. So if mistakes are both human and beneficial, why the harsh punishments for a mistake like overdrawing your account? Pretty much everyone has accidentally scheduled a bill to autopay the day before payday, or tapped the wrong card at checkout. Luckily, even if your balance is low, your bank is there to spot you the difference. Not so luckily, they often charge you a fee — per declined transaction — for the “convenience.” Gee . . . thanks?

At many banks, those so-human mistakes are big business. In 2019, banks charged U.S. consumers over $15 billion in overdraft and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees. TD Bank does things differently: With TD Overdraft Relief, there are no fees if you overdraw by $50 or less, never any NSF fees for returned payments on your personal checking account, and with Grace Period*, they’ll erase any overdraft fees as long as you deposit the overdrawn funds the next day. Here’s to never paying $37 for a coffee again.

And just like that one friend in the group chat who somehow has everyone’s birthdays memorized and can remember the exact date when you wore that one blue top, it’s helpful to have someone (or something) to help keep you in the know. Plus, if you’re like many people, you’re the proud owner of about 90 different online accounts — from your banking accounts to email, social media, streaming services, and the store where you bought one office cardigan ten years ago, and they just won’t let it go. There’s so much to keep track of, it’s enough to make you start researching acreage in Alaska. TD Alerts, which is essentially your banking group chat, can at least keep track of your finances easily.

Use alerts to manage your spending, notify you of low balances, keep your accounts secure, track your progress toward big-picture goals like saving for a vacation or a home, and lots more. It’s easy to customize the alerts that matter to you, and oversee all your accounts from one app. Probably a better choice than going full Luddite.

After years of all-digital everything, it feels pretty refreshing to get back to face-to-face interactions. Just imagine asking a friendly bank teller your routing number, instead of tapping through 10 different app menus searching for it. Or breezing into your local branch and working with people who know your business. Or getting hit with “no problem” when you overdraw, instead of a hefty fee. There’s just no replacing real life connections — after all, humans are kind of built for that.

*When items are presented for payment that result in your available Account balance being overdrawn by more than $50, Overdraft Grace provides you with an opportunity to receive refunds for overdraft fees if your available Account balance is at least $0, inclusive of any pending or posted items, at the end of the next business day.

**Based on average store hour data pulled in April 2022 of Top Banks (as defined below) in metropolitan statistical areas in which TD Bank operates (“TD MSAs”), excluding drive-thru hours and hours of locations in retail stores (such as grocery stores). Top banks are the top 20 banks by total deposits across TD MSAs, the top five banks by store share (or by total deposits, if store share is equal) in each TD MSA, and any bank with greater or equal store share compared to TD Bank in each TD MSA (“Top Banks”).

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